Advanced sensors, computing systems tracking sea animals worldwide

SEATTLE -- Emerging new technology is allowing scientists to monitor the movements and behavior of marine life over the entire vast expanses of Earth's oceans and thus improve conservation efforts. And that technology demands more expansive and cooperative ways of doing research as well as better ways to analyze the exploding amounts of information, Duke University investigators say.

"Now scientists can put tags on bluefin tuna, blue whales and wandering albatrosses and follow what they do for the entire year," said marine mammal expert Andrew Read, an assistant professor of marine conservation biology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. "At Duke we're putting satellite linked transmitters on three species of sea turtles. The problem now is what you do with that massive quantity of data to make the best use of it?"

Added Duke researcher Patrick Halpin, "You have an operational oceanography community that's developing a lot of satellite remote sensing data and models." Halpin is a Nicholas School assistant professor of the practice of landscape ecology who focuses on geospatial technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS) and satellite remote sensing.

"Biologists are collecting data from ship surveys or aerial surveys, or tagging animals and tracking them through time. But we need to merge these data together. It's very challenging and we're just beginning to develop common frameworks to analyze this dynamic ocean data in a useful manner," said Halpin, whose laboratory specializes in using computers to overlay such information.

Both Read and Halpin will speak at a seminar that begins at 9 a.m. PT on Friday, Feb. 13, 2004 during the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2004 Annual Meeting in Seattle.

That seminar on "New Approaches to Conserving Marine Animals in a Dynamic Ocean" has been organized by Larry Crowder, a Nicholas School professor of marine biology whose res

Contact: Monte Basgall
Duke University

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