Photo by Jiangang Luo, Ph.D.
To better understand Atlantic tarpon migratory patterns, spawning areas and population connectivity, Jerry Ault, Ph.D. and the University of Miami have been using satellite tags since 2001. These space-age tags deployed on tarpon can collect and archive second-by-second data on depth of the animal, water temperatures, light levels (specific for determining location of the tagged fish), and salinity. The PAT(Pop-up Archival Transmitting) tags are pre-programmed to release from the tagged fish at a specified time and date, and then pop-up to the ocean surface where they will transmit their stored summary data to an ARGOS satellite network passing overhead. Data retrieved by the satellites is then forwarded to the biologists for analysis. Another type of tag used is a SPOT (Smart Position or Temperature) tag. These transmit location data whenever a tarpon rolls with enough frequency to get a satellite lock. The goal of the satellite tagging research is to define the unit stock for the Atlantic tarpon, to define stock mixing, spawning and feeding migrations, and coastal ocean habitat use by tarpon. ITCA actively supports the satellite tagging of tarpon around the world.