Colocación Pulseras al MN 2152 y 2180-C1-09-01-13 (13)

Monitoring of the monk seals at Cabo Blanco using GPS-Fastloc technology (2). Methodology

On January 2015 we wrote a post on this same blog presenting the tagging of monk seal individuals at Cabo Blanco using GPS-Fasloc tags and its importance for the protection of the species.

Now we want to tell you how it has been achieved.

The common methodology to tag pinnipeds implies capture and immobilization of the animal to glue the dispositive to its head or back. The impact related to this procedure is not acceptable if talking about the Mediterranean monk seal. We needed an alternative that would not imply disturbances, or risks for the animals.

The solution resulted to be completely innovative and consisted on placing a bracelet on the ankle of one of the rear flippers of the animal. And the most important: that bracelet was put on while the animal was sleeping, without it noticing. To do so, a great experience on seals handling is necessary, but the result is astonishing and it has not impact associated.

But, how are the GPS localizations obtained? First clarify that when the animal is at sea, flippers are underwater. On these conditions, the tag cannot communicate with satellites. Nevertheless, before every immersion, the seal takes an impulse in which the flipper comes out of the water for a few tenths of a second and on that brief period of time, the tag obtains the GPS position. Afterwards, when the seal comes back to the cave, the information is downloaded automatically at the base station. We get it!

Tags include a TDR (time and depth register) that gives very precise data about the activity patron and behavior developed by the animal every moment.

TDR and GPS- Fastloc information are complementary, so we are able to know not only where the seals go, but what do they do as well at every one of those places.

On a next post we will tell you interesting and unknown things about the results achieved to date.

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