BIOT Animal Tracking & Monitoring Receiver Retrieval Expedition

The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is among the largest no-take contiguous marine protected areas in the world. The ecosystems of BIOT are notable for being among the healthiest in the world, which provide a unique opportunity to examine the impacts of climate and humans on marine resiliency. The Bertarelli Programme for Marine Science (BPMS) was created to conduct scientific monitoring of marine ecosystem and population health and collect biological data from the region to foster informed management. To achieve these goals, researchers from Stanford University, the University of Western Australia and the Zoological Society of London have been using electronic tag technologies to study mobile predators and the habitats they use. In March and April 2016, in order to expand the array coverage we deployed 16 acoustic release (AR) receivers on deep seamounts and canyons which until recently were inaccessible without such remote technologies as they lie outside safe diver-retrievable depths. The battery life of the receivers requires that they be retrieved within 14 months of deployment to ensure sufficient battery life to activate the release mechanism. In April/May 2017, scientists from Stanford University and the Zoological Society of London joined with the crew of the BPV Grampian Frontier to retrieve these acoustic units and the critical data they hold. Over a 5-day expedition, our team successfully combined retrieval and fisheries enforcement operations, making full use of the versatility of the new patrol vessel and her daughter crafts. We recovered 12 of 16 AR receivers and serviced 2 VR4 Global units in addition to patrolling nearly 500 miles of the reserve and building relations with the new crew. The four remaining receivers were either unable to release or unresponsive. The units retrieved contained over 500,000 detections, underscoring the importance of the acoustic network to highlight the connectivity and role of seamounts throughout BIOT.
Jacoby David .