Vancouver Aquarium releases seals being tracked with GPS after rehabilitating them.
Five adorable seal pups that had been rehabilitating at the Vancouver Aquarium were finally released. But they weren’t released alone; each one of them has a GPS tracking transmitter on the top of their head to be able to track and monitor their movement after being released in an effort to see how well rehabilitated seals fare after being released.
The seals have been cared for at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre located at the Vancouver Aquarium. Here, the seals were each equipped with a GPS tracking device that was placed on top of their head in an effort to monitor their activity while in the water.
When being released, the seals were taken from the rescue centre to Porteau Cove in Howe Sound. Each one was safely transported in a dog kennel and released on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, which is north of Vancouver. There were seven seals in total: two of which did not have GPS transmitters, but were also rehabilitated at the aquarium.
Once the kennels were removed from the transporting vehicle and opened, the seals peeked their heads out to get a grasp of their surroundings, before bouncing out and onto the beach. It took them a few minutes on the beach before they finally braved the water.
The GPS trackers do not harm the seals and are simply glued to the top coat of their heads. To the general observer, these satellite transmitters look like electronic Mohawk-style devices on their heads.
The battery life of each tracker is about a year, but due to the combination of water and glue, it may fall off their head before the year is up. Each transmitter cost the aquarium about $1,500 to purchase an additional $200 monthly for monitoring the seal’s activity.
Researchers at the aquarium intend to watch and research data from these transmitters so they can see how far seals travel, including the longevity of their travels.
Staff veterinarian, Martin Haulena, wants to find out the best conditions for releasing seals in the future and if changes need to be made to the Vancouver Aquarium’s rehabilitation program. He told reporters:
“I want to see how these animals do, and how they do kind of dictates what we do next year. Are there differences or changes that I want to do in their release criteria? Release them at different weights? Release them in different areas?”
This isn’t the first time the aquarium has attempted to monitor an animal after being released from their rehabilitation program. Earlier this year, they released an adult harbor porpoise that was glued to its dorsal in. Unfortunately, it only lasted about 70 days, so they are hoping for more data from the seals.
Haulena has been rehabilitating at the aquarium for 20 years, and still calls his job and the releasing of rehabilitated animals, “awesome.”
Amazon reveals their secretive testing of GPS-equipped delivery drones.
Home delivery may be changing in the near future, as the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has admitted to their Prime Air project. While there have been some suspicions regarding this project, nobody knew for sure what it was about until Bezos opened up to 60 Minutes about the research.
Bezoz announced that Amazon has been using delivery drones to test possible package delivery going directly to customer’s doors in a very short period of time. GPS tracking has been helping them in the testing stages of the project.
The testing stage has been going on for quite some time in a development lab in Seattle, Washington, where Amazon’s corporate headquarters are located. Though the project is still about five years from being approved. If they are approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), customers could have their packages delivered by these drones in an hour or less.
Even Bezos himself admits the “octocopters” look like science fiction devices, but they can be used as delivery vehicles, providing fast and easy delivery of customer’s packages. According to Bezos, the drones are currently able to carry up to five pounds, which is 86 percent of the items sold through Amazon. Through the testing phase of the project, they are looking at a range of ten miles and hoping to cover most of the urban populated areas.
These drones are slightly different than those used in the military. They will not require remote controlling by people, but will use GPS devices to input specific coordinates and have the drone fly directly to the residence or business. With the tracking technology, sensors will allow for avoidance of nearby power lines, buildings and additional obstacles.
Some concerns about these delivery drones include issues with privacy, traffic safety, homeland security and legal obstacles. The biggest issue right now is making sure the drones avoid obstacles, since they are operated through GPS devices and not humans controlling their movement and location. There will also likely be areas of the country where they can not enter, such as in Washington DC where there are no-fly zones. Other issues include potential accidents and who would be liable for the damages.
Technology entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil told reporters that this advanced technology can often be a double-edged sword. He said, “Fire kept us warm and cooked our food but also was used to burn down our villages.” He goes on to explain that the execution of this idea is the most difficult part, as the technology already exists.
The founder of Amazon is no stranger to taking unconventional ideas and creating something phenomenal. Bezos began his company from a garage in Seattle by selling books online and turned into the largest online retailer in the world. As of now, the delivery drones could technically be used for recreational use, but not commercial use. The law so far has not kept up with the advancement in technology, so it will still be a few more years before this idea can be a reality for consumers.
GPS technology now being used to track deer and study their behavior patterns during hunting season.
As deer hunting season begins, hunters are starting to track deer’s movements in the Pennsylvania area, but they won’t be alone. Researchers are also beginning a study of the local deer’s behavior patterns by using GPS tracking technology.
The study, called the Deer Forest Study, is being conducted by researchers at Penn State and the local Game Commission. It will include 30 deer, each of which have been outfitted with GPS tracking devices in the form of collars. These collars are going to be controlled with the help of text messages sent to the tracking devices. The devices will record the location and movements of the deer in real-time.
Researchers are hoping to learn more about the location of deer during hunting season and throughout other times of the year, including their behavioral habits and their movements.
This comes in part due to the suspicion that deer are now turning nocturnal and only coming out at night. But it is just a suspicion, which will soon be verified with the help of the GPS tracking study. Researchers also want to know their behavior in hunting season specifically, including how the hunting pressure affects their movements and what areas they relocate to.
The supervisor of the deer and elk section of Game Commission, Christopher Rosenberry, told reporters this wouldn’t be the first time they used radio collars, but are hoping for better results by including GPS technology in the collars. In the past, they captured deer in nets and put on radio collars, but would need to trigger and release the collar remotely. Researchers would have to go out into the forest and find the collars to download the information. But now with the new text-version of the GPS radio collars, they can get the data immediately just by sending a text message to the collar. With a simple text, they receive the current location of the deer.
Rosenberry reported that the researchers want to find out how many of the deer remain in their study area during the hunting season. They began the study in the spring and will continue through the fall and winter hunting season. He told reporters:
“It’s the same as the GPS unit in your car except it records that location. For example, throughout the summer and last spring, it (the frequency) was every five hours. We bumped it up in the fall to every three hours, and we’ll go every 20 minutes during the gun season,” Rosenberry said.
Researchers also want to know how the population of deer affects local impacts of the forest, including the harvest rates and forest vegetation. The study areas are parts of the local forest where hunters have registered that will go hunting. They will also find out the longest distance that deer tend to roam.