Any movements of marine animals were largely unknown until the researchers were able to deploy sophisticated tracking devices on animals in the wild. The technology has now been harnessed to provide some interesting insights into the behaviors and migratory patterns of a lot of marine animals including sharks, seals, turtles etc. After pooling their data, researchers are able to look for some common features on how marine animals move throughout the oceans.
The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on February 26 and showed some striking similarities between different species even those who are vastly separated by evolutionary history, geography or mode of travel. The differences were more in different habitats than in different species. In coastal areas, the insights showed more complex patterns dominated by search behaviour while on the other hand, there were simpler and more predictable movements over the longer distances in the open ocean. The insights would be helpful in predicting how the marine animals will move according to climate change. Costa joined hands with Barbara Block at Stanford University in 2000 to start the TOPP or the Tagging of Pacific Predators programme to track the movements of major marine animals including predators such as sharks and tunas. The lab has now done groundbreaking studies on a wide range of marine species including California sea lions, Weddell seals, sooty shearwaters, crabeater seals and southern elephant seals.
By: Neha Maheshwari