Advances in Fish Tagging and Marking Technology

Foreword to Archival and Pop-up Satellite Tags Section

Andrew C. Seitz


Archival and pop-up satellite tags are sophisticated electronic fish marking devices with onboard computers that record and store data measured by a variety of electronic sensors. To acquire data from archival tags, the tag must be physically recovered by recapturing the marked fish. In contrast, data recovery for pop-up satellite tags is independent of fish recapture as these tags release from fishes on a pre-programmed date and archived data summaries are transmitted to the investigator via orbiting satellites. Because neither tag transmits real-time data while deployed on a fish, both types of tags have freed researchers from arduously following study organisms in inhospitable places and during inopportune times to obtain sensor data. The tags can remain in or on animals for several months and have provided unprecedented insight into the ecology of many fish species, particularly those that migrate.

First generation archival and pop-up satellite tags were large, had limited battery life and contained only a few basic sensors, such as temperature and depth. In contrast, the latest generation of archival and satellite tags are highly miniaturized, contain a wide variety of sensors, are capable of storing high volumes of data and have greatly extended battery lives. Because of their increasing versatility and the fact that the cost of the technology has become cheaper, archival and satellite tags are being increasingly applied to a wide variety of freshwater and marine organisms.

The call for papers for the archival and pop-up satellite tagging sessions requested presentations focusing on the development of tag technology, the diversification of their use, innovative approaches to data utilization, and biological/ecological discoveries gleaned from their use. The sessions contained a broad diversity of fish studies from Earth’s three major oceans, plus the Laurentian Great Lakes, by speakers from eight countries.