Thursday, September 1, 2022
Graphical abstract of the paper describing the new RDW tag

Our recent paper in Animal Biotelemetry by Palacios et al. (2022) documents the development of the "RDW tag", a new electronic device for monitoring whale behavior that we co-developed in partnership with manufacturer Telonics. The capabilities of the RDW tag are illustrated in the graphical abstract above (created by lab member Clarissa Teixeira), in comparison to the "location-only tag" that had been our primary device for tracking whale movement and migration. The main points of the paper are:

  • Until now, technological limitations have prevented long-term tracking of whale feeding behavior via satellite.
  • The new RDW tag incorporates pressure and accelerometer sensors to monitor feeding behavior in whales remotely for multiple months.
  • Software onboard the tag creates a behavior summary for every dive in a small data packet for satellite transmission.
  • Using microprocessor technology, the software adapts over time to optimize detection of key events in the accelerometer data stream.
  • The RDW tag provides the ability to monitor previously unobservable behaviors across entire geographic ranges, extending the applications of electronic devices to new areas of marine mammal physiology, behavior, ecology, and conservation.

References & Links

Palacios, D.M., Irvine, L.M., Lagerquist, B.A., Fahlbusch, J.A., Calambokidis, J., Tomkiewicz, S.M., & Mate, B.R. 2022. A satellite-linked tag for the long-term monitoring of diving behavior in large whales. Animal Biotelemetry, 10, 26.

OSU press release: "Long-term tracking of whale feeding behavior via satellite now possible with new tag".

Argos-CLS News: "A new tag to record diving behavior of large whales".

Science Magazine News: "Long-term tracking of whale feeding behavior via satellite now possible with new tag".

The Engineer (UK): "New satellite tag gives fresh insights into whale behaviour".