Whales, seals used as ocean reporters

Sep 05, 2005

A Japanese university has begun attaching cameras and sensors to seals and whales as part of an investigation of the ocean environment.

Since male elephant seals swim up to about 1,800 miles looking for food and whales dive to depths of about 3,200 feet, the experiment is expected to provide a significant amount of data on ocean pollution and facilitate understanding of marine ecosystems, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Monday.

The University of Tokyo's Ocean Research Institute says the use of migratory marine animals that cover a wide area should dramatically increase the amount of data.

At present, researchers are operating sensors attached to elephant seals breeding off the coast of California, blue whales living in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and sperm whales that appear in the seas near Japan.

The smallest sensor is about the size of a crayon, measuring about 2 inches in length and weighing 1 ounce. It takes measurements every few seconds of the water temperature and depth, amount of light in the water, the ocean currents and amounts of zooplankton in the area. Cameras attached to the sea creatures snap photographs about every 30 seconds. Their location is recorded using the Global Positioning System.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia confident of Antarctic marine reserve in 2015

Nov 01, 2014

Australia said on Saturday it was confident its plans for a marine reserve to protect biodiversity in East Antarctica would succeed next year, after international talks in Hobart failed to agree on the measure.

California's sea otter numbers holding steady

Sep 23, 2014

When a sea otter wants to rest, it wraps a piece of kelp around its body to hold itself steady among the rolling waves. Likewise, California's sea otter numbers are holding steady despite many forces pushing ...

Recommended for you

Ancient clay seals may shed light on biblical era

11 hours ago

Impressions from ancient clay seals found at a small site in Israel east of Gaza are signs of government in an area thought to be entirely rural during the 10th century B.C., says Mississippi State University archaeologist ...

Digging up the 'Spanish Vikings'

Dec 19, 2014

The fearsome reputation of the Vikings has made them the subject of countless exhibitions, books and films - however, surprisingly little is known about their more southerly exploits in Spain.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.