• Jaimie Cleeland

What are geolocators?



A geolocator deployed on a sub-Antarctic skua

For many years researchers at the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) have been tracking Antarctic and Southern Ocean top predators, from delicate Short-tailed Shearwaters to imposing Southern Elephant Seals, using light-level geolocators.

Geolocators are miniature tracking devices that record ambient light levels, water temperature and time. The light curve produced over the sunrise and sunset twilight period is unique to a given latitude. The time of noon is also specific to a given longitude. Collecting this data identifies the relative location of a tagged animal to within 200km. Using satellite derived sea surface temperature, with knowledge of the species’ likely travel speed, we can further constrain this area to achieve a more accurate position.


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