Marine megafauna
as ocean observers

In the bio-logging decade, advances in tagging technology are allowing researchers to examine the fine– and broad- scale animal movements in the marine environment like never before. Alongside recording valuable biological data, deployed tags are also able to sample the physical environment surrounding each individual as they travel; providing insights into both the drivers underlying patterns of animal movement, and of the status of oceanographic systems as a whole.

recent review published in Frontiers in Marine Science, led by MegaMove Steering Committee members Prof Robert Harcourt and Dr Ana Sequeira with a large number of colleagues, describes the value of tagged marine megafauna acting as “autonomous sampling platforms” throughout our oceans. The capacity of these animals to provide measures from a suite of essential ocean variables (known as EOVs) to global oceanographic observation systems is then discussed. It is expected that the increased spatial and temporal coverage provided by animal-borne tags will improve the monitoring of the Earth’s oceans moving into the future.

This publication is part of a series of Community White Papers solicited as part of the upcoming OceanObs’19 conference, taking place in Hawaii in September this year.