Animals helping forecast the future

Pioneering data collection

Could you hold your breath for 5 hours? Most turtles can, making them perfect for exploring the ocean in depth!

If you like your seven-day forecast then thank an animal-oceanographer, because these forecasts come directly from ocean data.

AniBOS stands for Animal Borne Ocean Sensors. The AniBos project involves animals carrying sensors that measure ocean data. It’s a pioneering way of getting data from places humans can’t easily get to.

These animal oceanographers have opened up a new world of information to scientists.

 

“It all started when we realised that by tracking how animals use their environment, we can also measure some exciting things about the physical environment,”

Dr. Clive McMahon

A unique alliance

“It all started when we realised that by tracking how animals use their environment, we can also measure some exciting things about the physical environment,” Dr. Clive McMahon of the AniBos project tells us.

Turtles and Elephant Seals are being used in the project. Animals are fitted with a sensor that detects information such as ocean temperature and salinity. This information is then sent to scientists using satellites, every time the animal surfaces for air.

Great care is taken not to impact or harm the animals, and the sensors naturally fall off over time.

Seals and turtles are the perfect candidates for AniBos because they inhabit remote areas which humans can’t easily access.

Elephant seals for example often travel great distances under the polar ice. This allows data to be collected from places it never been collected from before, leading to new discoveries.

“Working with marine animals offers scientists the ability to see into corners of the ocean that are otherwise inaccessible.”

Dr. Clive McMahon

At the frontier of ocean science

The AniBOS Seals are true pioneers of ocean science. For example, many of the world’s climate and weather patterns are a result of what happens in the ocean. Ocean currents – the movement of cold and warm water around the planet – influence weather and climate patterns.

The seals in the programme have helped scientists to locate new ocean currents and areas of interest, because they follow the fish that feed at the front of ocean currents. This has led to new understanding about how ocean currents are changing with a warming climate.

In the future the team will fit smaller, and more advanced sensors to penguins and flying seabirds, further building our understanding of the remote oceans, and all thanks to the animals.

Taking action

The animal oceanographers have shown scientists that our ocean is changing in unexpected ways. Making changes in our own lives has never been more urgent.

Just like the AniBOS animals, we can all do our part. Simple changes to our everyday lives can make a huge impact.

So, what can you do to a make a difference? What can you change? To find out more visit our Actions page to learn how small things matter.

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You don’t even have to hold your breath.

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