Seals help scientists probe remote seas

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Seals equipped with sensors on their foreheads are helping scientists collect data from some of the most remote corners of the world, advancing research on global warming, ice cover and weather forecasting. The project has involved more than 1,000 seals since it began in 2004 and on Monday the international scientists behind it launched the portal “Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole-to-pole” (www.meop.net) with the data collected so far. (…)

The monitors are battery-powered and intended to last for months at a time, collecting measurements for salinity and temperature that are then beamed back to researchers via satellite in short messages. Other monitors being developed would measure oxygen levels in the water and the amount of chlorophyll, which would be a way of measuring carbon dioxide levels and the phenomenon of ocean acidification.

Since the start of the project, some 400,000 environmental profiles have been produced. Each profile is based on a seal dive, some of which can go down as deep as 2,100 metres (6,890 feet). “The information sent back to us gives us details about the seal’s immediate physical environment. It’s like tweeting,” said Lars Boehme, a lecturer at St Andrew’s. (…)

The project involves an international consortium from 11 countries: Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greenland, Norway, South Africa and United States.

Discovery News (originally from AFP), 2 June 2015. Article.


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