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Animal trackers collaborate on new Google Earth for oceans
Date:2/2/2009

n called TAG-A-Giant that has placed over 1000 electronic tags in Atlantic bluefin tuna.

In October, 2008 Block with the support of the Sloan Foundation brought together a broad consortium of researchers for the "Biologging III" conference to explore how the researchers could combine forces to put animal tracking data into one portal. This has given rise the Global Tagging of Pelagic Predators. The data to be featured upon release of the new Google software in the GTOPP layer is a small sample of data from a variety of projects, all of which utilize electronic tags to follow animals over months and years, and across vast distances.

Block explains, "The idea of GTOPP is to create a Web-based portal where researchers around the globe can submit tracking data, that represents live uplinks or positions from a wide variety of animals. The goal is to combine the data with other oceanographic datasets. By viewing tracking data from multiple species simultaneously, in the context of ocean conditions, it is possible to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of how the open ocean ecosystems work. We can begin to see ocean hotspots those critical habitat regions where animals spend a great deal of time as well as the ocean highways that link them together."

The open ocean is experiencing significant impacts of human overexploitation. Large marine fish such as Giant bluefin in the Atlantic ocean, leatherback sea turtles, albatross and sharks are all experiencing steep declines in their populations.

"In order to sustainably manage open ocean fisheries, we need to provide resource managers with better information about how these animals live, and how they use the ocean," says Block. "If we can identify the key locations and times where these animals feed or breed, for example, we can help create management tools that protect them where they most need protection the open sea. Google has helped our efforts to visualize the deep blue s
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Contact: Randy Kochevar
kochevar@stanford.edu
831-236-0728
Census of Marine Life
Source:Eurekalert

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