Published in News
Science powers whales with 12GB flash
by David Stellmack on05 August 2007
To save the whale
Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts have developed a silicon-based “D Tag” identification tag can help track the location of a whale and also help researchers document its swimming and behavioral patterns.
The D Tag is about the size of a PC mouse and is attached to a whale with suction cups until the device is released as planned – a time period of about one day. The D Tag uses internal flash memory with 12GB capacity to gather information.
Once the D Tag is released it floats to the surface and emits a signal that allows researchers to locate and retrieve it. The recorded data is then extracted using a wireless infrared link and analyzed using MATLAB® technology.
The D Tag device records sound, measures water depth and senses and records the whale’s feeding and swimming movements. This will help researchers research and understand whale behavior in deep water where human observation has not been previously possible.
It will also help protect whales from being snagged by fishing nets by tracking their proximity to fishing grounds and their migration habits. To date Woods Hole researchers have been able to tag approximately eight whales for study.