A couple of weeks ago, we shared a post about a new study regarding the effects of data-logging tags on marine animals by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). The researchers are studying dolphins in order to determine if tags cause the dolphins to expend more energy on ordinary activities.
The study is ongoing, but another similar study about tags suggests that, yes, they do disrupt natural behavior.
A team of American and Canadian researchers have determined just how much energy is wasted when aquatic animals are fitted with tags and other research instruments.
They studied fiberglass casts of sea turtles in a wind tunnel and found that most commercially available tags only increased drag by less than five percent for large adults. However, when used on juveniles and smaller animals, those same tags increase drag by more than 100 percent.
Increased drag can cause animals to swim slower, which could prevent them from catching food and escaping predators. It could also impact migrations and breeding behavior.
But it’s not just about the wellbeing of the animal. If tags disrupt natural behavior, that means researchers might not be getting the data they think they’re getting; it might not reflect what the animal’s natural life is really like.
Check out the following video to learn more about the wind tunnel experiment:
To learn more:
- Read the full news release: Tagging aquatic animals can disrupt natural behaviour
- Read the abstract: Calculating the ecological impacts of animal-borne instruments on aquatic organisms
- Read more about the dolphin tag study: Dolphins Assist Scientists Studying Effects of Data-logging Tags
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