ATU marine scientists involved in exciting new pan-European marine animal tracking project

Thursday, July 27, 2023 Press Office
Research & Innovation
014(c) Joanne O Brien.JPG

Marine scientists Dr Joanne O’Brien and María Pérez Tadeo of ATU’s Marine and Freshwater Research Centre (MFRC) are involved in an exciting new EU-funded project called “Strategic Infrastructure for improved Animal Tracking in European Seas” (STRAITS) which will study the movement of sea animals at four strategic locations in Europe in a bid to better understand their biology and ecology, and aid in conservation and management.

Animal tracking – the study of animal movements– offers one of the best ways to monitor animals from regional to continental or even global scales, and from minutes to decades. Although animal tracking is not new, it is only recently that the technology has enabled the tracking of animals over larger areas and longer timescales. This advancement has yielded key information about the biology and ecology of these animals, but much more knowledge could be gained if efforts to tag and detect animals were performed collaboratively, as part of a network. This is one of the primary goals of STRAITS. 

Led by the Loughs Agency in Northern Ireland, the four-year €3.5m project is funded by the Horizon Europe Framework Program. The team is drawn from 10 world-leading organisations in the study of animal movement who together will advance the public’s understanding of aquatic animal movements in Europe and abroad and change the way biodiversity is monitored in European waters.

The pan-European project sees acoustic telemetry arrays deployed in four major swimways in Europe (see map below), namely: 

1) the Danish Straits, between the Kattegat Sea and the Baltic Sea
2) the North Channel in the Celtic Sea
3) the Strait of Gibraltar, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea
4) the Strait of Bosphorus and Dardanelles, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea 

STRAITS will leverage ongoing acoustic telemetry tracking projects, expand efforts to connect tracking initiatives from across Europe, develop data management plans and networking to promote synergy, and deliver data to national and international governing bodies. 

ATU’s focus will be specifically on the movement of marine mammals, as Dr Joanne O’Brien, Principal Investigator and María Pérez Tadeo, postdoctoral researcher, ATU Galway’s MFRC, explain in ATU Podcast