Making Better Tags for Tracking Turtles

Tagging equipment is used on all manner of aerial and marine creatures to gather data about animal behavior in their natural environments. It can be difficult, though, for researchers to gauge what effects the tags have on an animal. A recent study by T. T. Jones et al. used drag measurements on marine turtle casts to estimate the effects of common tagging equipment. They found that, on large turtles, the equipment increases a turtle’s drag by as little as 5%, but for smaller species or juvenile turtles, the drag cost can be much larger – in some cases doubling a turtle’s drag when swimming. Such large increases in drag may significantly change a tagged turtle’s behavior and skew results or even endanger the animal. The researchers suggest a model that allows others to estimate a tag’s drag effects across species. (Image credits: T. Gray and M. Carey; research credit: T. T. Jones et al.; via PopSci; submitted by Chi M.)

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