TitleThe evolution of satellite-monitored radio tags for large whales: One laboratory's experience
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMate, BR, Mesecar, R, Lagerquist, BA
JournalDeep Sea Research II
AbstractDespite several centuries of whaling and directed research, there are only a few whale stocks whose year-round whereabouts are reasonably well known. For the vast majority of depleted populations, the link between seasonal feeding and breeding concentrations remains unknown. This lack of information on range, seasonal distribution, stock structure, and migration routes makes it difficult to design and implement effective conservation measures to promote recovery. The use of such information would have been valuable to develop stock-specific quotas for whaling, but now it may be even more important for recovery of depleted stocks and identifying anthropogenic threats throughout a depleted stock’s range. Building upon the preliminary findings of Discovery tags and more recent photo identification studies, satellite-monitored radio tags are now providing range and seasonal distribution information for many stocks of depleted large whales. These parameters are important to better estimate population abundance, characterize habitats, identify threats to recovery, and design effective protection measures when needed. This paper traces one laboratory’s experience with the development of satellite-monitored radio tag technology for large whales, including attachment mechanisms and delivery systems, in the hope that others will profit from our successes and our mistakes. Selected examples are used to demonstrate how such tags contribute to new insights about whales’ habitats, migrations, behaviour, and management.