Modern technology has equipped us with new ways to satisfy our innate curiosity. While some might think we have already explored all there is to know on Earth and are moving towards the distant space, the truth is there is plenty more to observe on our planet. With the advancement of technology we have increasingly shed light on numerous mysteries of nature and wildlife, from the depths of the seas and oceans to the tops of the tallest mountains.
The first tagging technologies were created back in the 1950s and consisted of radio transmitters. Forty years later, these changed to satellite telemetry. At the moment, the tags attached to animals are so advanced they can record even the squeaks of whales that hunt squid at a depth of one mile underwater.
The newest development in this field is a tracker powered by the sun that was attached to California condors. In this way, researchers were able to gain a unique insight on the travels of the proud birds that can fly at heights of 15,000 feet. However, the same can be said about the tags placed on humpback whales that permitted us to take a peek 1,000 feet underwater. No less important were the GPS collars of the grizzly bears in Yellowstone, which helped scientists understand their habits and thus ensure their wellbeing.
These advanced devices can stand between life and death for endangered species. Department of Biosciences head, Rory Wilson from Science College of the Swansea University has stated that in order to make the ecosystem work, scientists need to understand exactly how its diverse elements interact.
The grizzly bear devices have let researchers know whether the animals can find food, an essential piece of information, especially since the bears are listed as threatened. Whitebark pine is the food source of the animals that has been recording a terrible decline due to the infestation of insects. With the help of the GPS collars, researchers could determine that bears can find other sources of food in autumn, just before they prepare to hibernate for the cold winter.
A similar method is used to understand the behavior of condors that fly up to three miles above Earth. Thanks to the tracking devices, we know now that the birds are making use of the best flying conditions to hunt, since their large wings impede them from flapping. This will also help researchers map the habitat of condors and thus take measure for protecting it.
Image Source: African Wildlife Foundation