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GPS Tracking Systems Give Scientists New Information

fishScientists have been able to track and record the movements of mola mola, more commonly known as a sunfish, for over 3 months with extraordinary accuracy thanks to GPS tracking system technology. The scientists, who snared 3 sunfish in a tuna net in the Atlantic Ocean near a coastal region in Portugal, attached a GPS tracker to each fish with the hope that the data retrieved would teach scientists about the fish’s prey search approach, migration patterns, and overall movement sequences. Unfortunately, 2 of the mola mola were able to slip out of the attached GPS tracking systems in a relatively short period of time, but the third fish was able to successfully keep the GPS system from slipping off it’s body, allowing scientists to collect a great quantity of unique data. The advancement of GPS tracking systems has allowed scientists to record the behaviors of numerous different marine life, from tuna, dolphins, and sharks.

What is a Sunfish?

Scientists were able to gain a great deal of knowledge about the movements of sunfish thanks solely to GPS tracking system technology. But what is a sunfish, and why did scientists want to study the marine animal?

Sunfish inhabit temperate oceans found in mostly tropical regions. They have skin that has the texture of sandpaper and is coated in mucus. According to an educational website on sunfish, other characteristics include:

1) Appearance of a shortened body

2) Long sweeping fins

3) Silver-ish in color

4) Rounded tails

5) Changeable spotty-like patterns on their body

By studying the sunfish, scientists can learn a great deal about marine life in general.

What the GPS Tracking Systems Recorded

The sunfish who kept the GPS tracking system attached to it’s body the longest allowed researchers to monitor its movements for 92 days. The GPS tracking system data showed that as soon as the sunfish was tagged with the monitoring device it headed westward, and throughout the experiment consistently migrated toward warmer waters. Scientists were able to track the entire path the fish traveled, from Cape Trafalgar, to the Gulf of Cadiz, waters near Morocco, and waters off the coast of Africa, according to PLoS ONE, a scientific publication resource. The scientists involved in the sunfish research project believe that one day, in the very near future, that researchers will be able to extensively research smaller marine animals as GPS tracking systems become more advanced and compact.

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