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Ocean Tracking Network

The study of marine species is challenging given their large-scale migration and movements and remote habitat. Moreover, the distribution of numerous species extends to trans-boundary waters, where they are under international jurisdiction. Therefore, little is known about these species' movement patterns, migration trajectories, survival, and inter-specific interactions. In a context of changing ocean climate, it is crucial to understand marine ecosystems and to assess the potential responses of constituent species on modified environmental conditions. This knowledge is required for scientists, policy makers and managers to make informed decisions leading to sustainable ocean management.

The Ocean Tracking Network is a global monitoring platform uniting marine scientists from around the world. Through this joint effort, acoustic receivers and oceanographic monitoring equipment are deployed in oceans worldwide, providing unprecedented information on sea animals and oceanic physical conditions.

Scientists tag a variety of marine species, including but not limited to, whales, seals, penguins, sharks, turtles, tunas, salmons and crabs with small transmitters. These tags continuously emit an acoustic signal that is picked up by acoustic receivers installed at strategic locations along the sea floor around the world. This allows fine-scale monitoring of tagged animal locations, providing information of interest regarding species movements, migrations, habitat use and interactions. Tagged animals can also be outfitted with miniaturized ocean-sensing instruments that record seawater salinity, temperature, depth, chemistry, etc. These animals therefore act as probes to monitor their habitat.

OTN also collects data from shipboard sampling and satellite imagery to monitor plural environmental characteristics of the world's oceans. In addition, OTN deploys two Gliders (small robotic submarines) that perform transects up to 250 km offshore. These collect further environmental data that cannot be obtained from satellite imagery.

The data collected from the OTN sampling effort is made available to the international scientific community, allowing researchers to access unique information when addressing ecological and biogeochemical questions. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is a partner in the OTN effort. For more information, see

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