Challenge 3

Preservation of Marine Ecosystems

“Seeing is believing”.


In the past, documenting marine animal behavior was restricted to the scuba diving depth range or sparse video footage from ROV or autonomous submersibles of the water column and seabed, and yet that data is critical to understand marine population analyses and retrieve animal dynamics through movement simulations that can be directly utilized in ecosystem based management, stock assessments and other management applications. In the past years emerging analytical tools and technologies capable of measuring the physiological state, movement capacity, and performance ability of marine animals, as well as the environmental factors they encounter, are helping researchers to increasingly understand and predict why animals move. Electronic tagging will enable addressing environmental pressures of the present century, such as reaction of marine species to climate change (such as habitat loss)? How are they adapting to a changing planet? And simultaneously allowing for the design of strategies to foster conservation of marine species. As tracking tools continue to evolve with advances in technology and research, so will its application for understanding, predicting and responding to study implications of marine animal movement on their conservation and management. The recent years have seen a remarkable evolution both in capacity and reliability of electronic tags and geolocation of tagged animals in marine habitats. Advances such as increased data storage capacity, sensor development, and tag miniaturization have allowed researchers to track a much wider array of marine animals, not just large and charismatic species. Accurate documentation of animal movements and behaviors in critical marine habitats are impossible to obtain with other technologies. The management and conservation of marine species are critical in today’s changing ocean environment and as electronic tags become more accurate and functional for a diversity of organisms, their application continues to grow, setting new standards in science and technology. In parallel, although some of these tagging initiatives, give rise to outreach materials such as wildlife documentaries. In general, efforts made by science and research do not generally pass as information to society or the class rooms, for which the ocean remains an intangible entity. In the upcoming years it is fundamental to engage society in ocean literacy initiatives, that enable not just littoral populations but those of interior regions or from land locked states to “feel the ocean” to “view the ocean” and to “think the ocean” as directly or indirectly it plays a fundamental part on the day by day lives of people. In this sense, tags can be used as tool of proximity to marine wildlife and the marine environment, as “seeing is believing”. It is therefore crucial to bring the science world closer to the common citizen and allow for their engagement in supporting research initiatives both by facilitating through non existing mechanisms financial support, the up-scaling of its dimension and ambition, and conversely, by allowing for situational awareness and outreach of information and data products to be delivered to them in a more swift and comprehensive manner.

The Challenge

How to approach the animal tagging science community and society closer together for their mutual benefit, as more tag science can be supported through engagement of society and more perception of the changing oceans can be gained through opening Tag data and data products to society?


Your team should outline mechanisms to be setup as to allow for funding of batches of tags by civil society (owner and contributor), to be used by scientists (users), but enabling the contributors to get real time or time differed data products which could be used in an educational framework and enabling ocean awareness to be conveyed to the contributing society. How to setup such operation? Which mechanism could be put in place to bring researchers and the sponsoring society closer? How could the results from tagging be expressed in both educational (classroom) or other channels (outreach)? And by what means?

Expected Results

The team can do some out-of-the-box creative thinking to tackle some of the above questions and has freedom to suggest other ways to achieve the same objective. The result of this exercise is to present a 10 minute-pitch of your proposal focusing on:
  • A conceptual program expressing a business model for Animal tag dissemination (scientific community) through engagement of civil society (sponsors). (mandatory)
  • Address, how to, using creative means, data could be rolled back to contributors as useful or at least seductive and instructive information products, both in an educational (class room) or outreach frameworks. (mandatory)
  • Conceive a setup of sensors: physical, chemical and/or physiological to be assembled in an animal tag, to be fitted into a marine animal, but without disturbing its well-being. Please also address issues such as autonomy, depth rating, and communication requirements (facultative).