NASA Prototypes New Tracking Tag for Sea Otters and other Wildlife with USGS and Monterey Bay Aquarium


Today's technology offers far better solutions, creating a network of animal trackers that can deliver accurate, GPS-enabled otter locations more frequently.

When you think of technology development at NASA, your first thought may be spacecraft and satellites. But one of the latest inventions to come out of the agency's lead maker space isn't made for astronauts or engineers – but for sea otters.

Sea otters are important mammals in marine ecosystems and are essential to maintaining balance in kelp forests. That's why the Space Shop, a maker space at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, is developing a modern tracking device designed to humanely fit onto the hind flippers of sea otters. This new and improved tracking device is still being tested, but once it’s ready to be deployed, scientists will be able to track sea otter populations with far more precision and frequency than was previously possible. In the future, the same technology could be used to track other wild animals.

"We're bringing state-of-the-art tech to the challenge of tracking wildlife," said Chad Frost, the principal investigator for the project at Ames. "Using modern networking technologies and economical prototyping techniques like 3D printing, this collaboration is creating a new kind of tag that will fundamentally change the scale of science that can come out of tracking wildlife like sea otters."

Continue reading at NASA Ames Research Center

Image via NASA Ames Research Center