Aquatic species provide global food security, contribute billions of dollars annually through recreational sport and tourism, and are culturally significant to many aboriginal and First Nations groups. Despite their importance, little is know about the survival, movements and migrations, habitat use, and response to the changing ocean climate of many species.
Managers and policy makers require profound knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems to reduce and avoid human impacts. Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), a global research, technology, data management, and partnership platform headquartered at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, is providing a scientific foundation for sustainable oceans management. Since 2008, OTN has been deploying Canadian-made acoustic receivers and oceanographic monitoring equipment in key ocean locations and inland waters around the world.
OTN is establishing partnerships with a global community of telemetry users to document the movements and survival of aquatic animals carrying electronic tags (acoustic, satellite, radio, data archival) and how they are influenced by changing environmental conditions. Knowledge generated by OTN is used by scientists, managers, policy-makers, industry, and the general public. OTN is tracking more than 140 keystone, commercially important, and endangered species such as marine mammals, sea turtles, squid, benthic crustaceans, and fishes including sharks, sturgeon, eels, tuna, salmonids, and cod.
OTN hosts an internationally certified data warehouse–175 million detection records and growing–that serves as a repository for data collected by OTN researchers. OTN is also developing interpretation and visualization tools for analysis of tracking data. OTN operates a fleet of autonomous marine gliders in support of oceanographic and tracking research.