Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

University students design unique marine-tracking device

Date:
September 18, 2012
Source:
Dalhousie University
Summary:
Students from different disciplines came together to design a unique marine-tracking device. The device will collect data by being attached to a fish's tail. By using this technology, which can track up to 500 tail-movements per second, researchers hope to discover more about how a fish's movement relates to its behavior and growth rate.

Dalhousie student Franziska Broell holds one of the accelerometer tags that she developed with Andre Bezanson.
Credit: Danny Abriel, Dalhousie University

Anyone with an iPhone is familiar with what an accelerometer does, even if they've never heard of one before. It's the device that tells the screen to turn depending on how the phone is being held.

Related Articles


That same technology is the cornerstone of Dalhousie University student Franziska Broell's research study, which focuses on biological oceanography and sensor development for marine animal tracking. The Ocean Tracking Network is supporting the study.

Broell has an undergraduate degree in applied statistics and marine biology from Victoria University and came to Dalhousie to pursue a PhD in biological oceanography.

When she got here, Chris Taggart, Dalhousie professor and her research supervisor, had a challenge waiting.

"When I first came to Dal, I remember my supervisor gave me a box of circuits and wires and said, 'Here. That's your project.' It took me quite awhile to get into this and to even figure out what an accelerometer was," recalls Broell.

Tracking fish by the tail

She was tasked with developing an accelerometer that could be attached to a fish to record its movements. This device would collect data that would help the team learn more about fish behaviour and growth based on the movement of the tail -- invaluable information for fisheries all around the world. Currently, no one uses a reliable measurement of growth rate in the field.

But first, she needed to learn a thing or two about engineering. Enter: Andre Bezanson, a Dalhousie grad student in biomedical engineering.

The two students met through a mutual friend and ended up talking about Broell's research. Bezanson was drawn to the idea of helping design the accelerometer, even if it meant hours and hours of part-time work on top of the work he's responsible for in his own studies.

"My parents started their careers in oceanography and I grew up living next to the ocean," says Bezanson. "It seemed like an interesting project and a great opportunity to work with the end-user of a product I had personally developed."

Going smaller, more precise

The two students have been refining the technology for over a year now by adapting open source hardware developed by the Arduino electronics community. Over that time, their device has evolved into a much smaller circuit that requires less power to operate while maintaining the quality of the data.

"The first version was a lot larger and it needed a lot more power. Since then I've been able to refine it to eliminate components and simplify the design," says Bezanson.

"We've designed our tags so they can sample up to 500 movements per second," explains Broell as she watches a slow-motion video of a large fish eating a smaller fish. The moment passes so quickly that it's easy to miss. The high-definition video has helped her team show that an accelerometer capable of recording such fast movements is necessary to learn more about feeding behaviours and growth rates.

In January, Broell will bring her fish back to the Aquatron to fit them with the latest version of the accelerometer. By then, the fish will have grown, so she'll re-do all of her previous experiments done with older models of the accelerometers to see what kind of influence the change of size has on the movement of their tails this time around.

"When I can show that the movement relates to the size of the animal, then we can put this into the field," says Broell.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dalhousie University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dalhousie University. "University students design unique marine-tracking device." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918154110.htm>.
Dalhousie University. (2012, September 18). University students design unique marine-tracking device. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918154110.htm
Dalhousie University. "University students design unique marine-tracking device." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120918154110.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Watch Baby Goose Survive A 400-Foot Cliff Dive

Buzz60 (Oct. 31, 2014) For its nature series Life Story, the BBC profiled the barnacle goose, whose chicks must make a daredevil 400-foot cliff dive from their nests to find food. Jen Markham has the astonishing video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) A health group in the United Kingdom has called for mandatory calorie labels on alcoholic beverages in the European Union. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

Malaria Threat in Liberia as Fight Against Ebola Rages

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Focus on treating the Ebola epidemic in Liberia means that treatment for malaria, itself a killer, is hard to come by. MSF are now undertaking the mass distribution of antimalarials in Monrovia. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins