A project hosted by the Zoological Society of London ZSL

Are the devices suitable for the marine environment?

Posted on January 17th, by Robin Freeman in . 2 comments

Suitability depends on the proposed research. We have successfully deployed the devices on a number of seabird species, tracking them for short-term trips recording very-high resolution positional information. In these cases, we package up the devices in heat-shrink tubing (waterproof and bird-proof) and attach the devices using Tesa tape.

The devices record GPS locations and transmit data via radio signals. Both of these features do not work underwater (as radio signals don’t really penetrate water). As such, the devices cannot track GPS locations or transmit data underwater. However, given sufficient time they can record fixes and relay data to other devices when animals are on the surface (or out of the water).

2 thoughts on “Are the devices suitable for the marine environment?

  1. Hi Dr. Freeman,

    Do you think these devices are applicable to sea turtle research? I mean, can the devices operate underwater?

    About the data collection; I understand only is possible collect data when turtles are on the surface, which are an important information too. But, how big is the range of radio signal? What is the transmission range?

    Thank so much.

    • Hi,

      It is possible to use the devices to track turtles, but GPS won’t get a fix underwater, only above the surface. I’ve added some comments about this here:


      Also, as we’re not providing housings – we would need to work out how to waterproof the devices. I’ve done this for my own seabird research, but for long term deployments we would likely need to ‘pot’ them (seal them in epoxy or similar).

      The radio range can be up to about 300-500m, but again, this will only work above the ocean surface.

      Hope this helps,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 + = nine

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>