Sunday, March 23, 2014

On the verge

We have been doing some extensive testing. Five well-calibrated tags deployed on squid at Flying Sharks. Numerous float tests, testing when the tags release, the tuning of the radio beacon, etc.... Today we had our tag pop off at the predicted time. An nice 24 hr deployment on another squid. Things are going well.  We've set up a series of horizontal video cameras and overhead vertical Go-Pro cameras to image the squid movements. These videos help us compare what we're measuring on the tag to what the animal seems to be doing.  The lab calibrations of respiration rates, jetting speeds, etc... will also us to determine what the animal is doing in the field, when we don't have the ability to set up 5 different cameras.

So with the success of these tests, tomorrow we head into the field. First some field measurements of how far we can detect the tag at sea We are also curious how well the tag floats in a wavy open ocean.  If all goes well, we might even try to catch a squid and deploy the tag. Keep you fingers crossed!

The ITAG (reflecting yellow in the middle of the tank) and our Go-Pro setup to video behaviors. The squares on the bottom of the tank are for size calibration measures of the video images.  This was a successful 24 hr test. The tag released at the predicted time. We also captured jetting, inking and maybe feeding on the tag and cameras.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tag testing

For a quick summary, we've been spending the past few days catch squid, tagging at the Flying Sharks, and tweaking and learning about the new tag. The ITAG is a prototype tag that measures the acceleration (movement) and orientation of the animal, as well as some of the physical parameters of the surrounding water. But because we are using prototypes, we have to tweak some of the characteristics like the the floatation and release mechanisms. So with each test of the squid or on its own, we add or remove weight (to change flotation) or set timed releases and see if the tag releases on time.  It's quite an exciting process because we're moving forward with each step. But these early tests require being very careful and diligent. This is the foundation for testing (and not losing) our tags in the field. Pedro Afonso, one of our University of the Azores DOP colleagues is also practicing tagging and attachment methods to a deceased squid.

 An ITAG after it was released from the squid. It should be floating antenna up and is obviously not. We've been tweaking how extra weight is distributed.
Pedro and Kakani are fine-tuning the ITAG attachment methods with a dead squid.