Ocean depth–temperature profiles for operational oceanography from a shark-borne transmitter

Published on
19 November 2022

Ocean depth–temperature profiles for operational oceanography from a shark-borne transmitter

Kim Holland, Carl Meyer, James Potemra, Melinda Holland



Many regions of the ocean are under-sampled in terms of their biology and physical structure. Increasingly sophisticated animal-borne electronic tags are capable of measuring and transmitting in situ environmental data such as ocean temperature–depth profiles. This has the potential to significantly augment the volume of data acquired from under-sampled regions of the ocean. These data would enhance interpretation of animal behavior and distribution and could be used to inform oceanographic and meteorological models. Building on results obtained from marine mammals and turtles, we present a case study of depth–temperature profiles obtained from a tagged tiger shark.


During a 102-day deployment, 1350 geolocations were obtained from a shark from waters around Oahu, Hawaii. Of these, 520 were associated with depth–temperature profiles—some of which were from depths exceeding 500 m. Delay between profile creation and transmission to satellite or land-based receiver averaged 8.9 h (range: 35 s–43 h, median 6.32 h). The profiles were in close agreement with profiles extracted from nearby locations in an operational ROMS model. Land-based receivers played a significant role in augmenting data throughput obtained via satellites.


Shark-borne transmitters offer a viable option for collecting ocean profiles with reporting latencies that make them suitable for operational oceanography. They can significantly increase sampling frequency (especially subsurface) and sample geographic areas that are otherwise difficult to monitor with Lagrangian methods such as Argo floats. They sample locations and depths that are important to the animal and which in some cases may be biological hotspots. The resolution of the data is comparable with that derived from traditional platforms. By targeting appropriate species of shark, different areas of the ocean could be monitored at significantly higher rates than is currently the case.

Anim Biotelemetry 10, 34 (2022). DOI: 10.1186/s40317-022-00306-x


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