Marine animals could help us extend ocean monitoring

Marine animals could help us extend ocean monitoring


A team of researchers is proposing to equip some marine species with measuring instruments to study the unexplored regions of the oceans.

It’s a fact, we know today more about the Universe than about our own oceans. The latter, which cover about 70% of the entire earth’s surface, yet have much more direct impact on our daily lives, beyond philosophical questions. So how can we try to fill these gaps?

Support of marine fauna
For many years researchers have used satellites, aircraft, ships, underwater drones or floating sensors. These instruments have allowed us to better understand the ocean environment, without a doubt. Nevertheless, their range is often limited in certain environments, such as subglacial zones or in great depths. This is why these areas are still largely misunderstood.

To extend our power of study, a team of researchers from the University of Exeter (United Kingdom) proposes to support us with different marine species. “We want to highlight the tremendous potential of animal-sensing sensors to learn about the oceans,” said David March, Center for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter. This is already happening on a limited scale, but there is still a lot to do. “

Equip animals already under study
Tuna and rays could, for example, allow us to study the high seas, while some whales and penguins could be “used” to collect data under the polar ice. Sharks, for their part, could be tracked in remote tropical areas. Many of these animals are already tagged and tracked for biological studies. The idea would be to be able to equip these same specimens with additional sensors to collect new ocean data.

“It’s important to note that animal welfare is paramount. We simply suggest that animals already tracked for ethically defensible and conservationally relevant ecological research be recruited as oceanographers, “says Brendan Godley, co-author of this study. It is not recommended that animals be tracked only for oceanography.

With this new data, we could then be able to better understand these unexplored environments. Oceans play a key role in global climate regulation by exchanging heat and gases with the atmosphere. It is therefore very important to understand their behavior.