Whale Shark gets black box flight recorders
The whale shark is the largest species of shark in the world, and its mysterious life will be available to all and sundry to see for the first time once they are equipped with the equivalent of “black box flight recorders” by researchers. This project came into being as a result of a collaboration between both Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise – Australian Brad Norman and Briton Rory Wilson. The former was the first in the world to set up a photo-ID system for identifying whale sharks while the latter successfully developed most sophisticated device for monitoring the activity of animals in the wild in the world.
According to Wilson, his logger weighs a mere 30 to 48 grams and is shaped after an aircraft’s black-box flight recorder, capable of monitoring changes in speed, altitude and heading. A tiny electronic device located right smack in the middle measures changes in the animal’s acceleration no matter where it goes – forward/back, up/down or sideways. It is capable of measuring motion along all three axes up to 32 times a second, and when combined with a compass, can determine the animal’s speed, direction and position. This goes one up on other popular animal tracking systems that rely on GPS since it is capable of working just fine in a dense forest, underground or in the ocean.
This unique animal tracker is smart enough to record the animals’ energy expenditure, where compiled data will be analyzed in order to help conservationists gain new insight into knowing what makes up a poor, average or optimum living condition, as well as other vital statistics such as the minimum area required for an individual or population of animals to survive and flourish. I guess this is a whole lot harder than those Sim games that I used to play in the past on the PC, where all my creatures’ comforts and needs are displayed for all and sundry to see. Keep up the good work, guys!