discussion / Biologging  / 22 February 2023

Tiny trackers for fish - other applications?

Hi all,

I've just seen this interesting tweet about tiny trackers for fish:

And in light of our Tracking Progress virtual meetups and research, it's got me wondering about applications for other animals. I'd love to hear your thoughts on tiny trackers like this and how we could be using them or improving them for other use cases. 

What's the smallest tracker you've worked with and what were the pros/cons? And do you think something like this would work for, say, tracking migrating birds or sea turtles if there were a less invasive way to deploy it?

These are really small acoustic tags. (Lotek Wireless, Sonotronics, and the JSATs design are examples of similar manufacturers/products.) These tags will only work in water because they require water in order to propagate their signal. Of course that means you need receivers in order to pick up the signal, so usually organizations will have a string or strings of strategically placed receivers to pick up the acoustic tags (mouths of rivers is a common location). I think the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) operates some of the largest sets of receivers. Others are managed by the institution themselves, various regional IOOS offices, and/or similar. 

They could work on really small sea turtles, but you are limited to tracking them based on the range of the receivers (which for smaller tags is even more limited, measured in meters or hundreds of meters). Lotek Wireless recently started producing their "Sunbird" line which has been used on some relatively small turtles. You can look at the work that Upwell is doing as an example of satellite-based tracking with very small turtles. 

Birds...out of the question : (