And just like that, our last GPS tracking device has been deployed for 2022!
Earlier this year, Adrift Lab was thrilled to be awarded the inaugural British Ornithologist Union Gibbs Award. The award is funded by a legacy left to the BOU to specifically fund ‘research on tracking and migration studies including the use of new technologies’.
In 2022, the Adrift Lab team used the funds to purchase state-of-the-art solar powered GPS tracking devices (see photo). We attached the tags to juvenile shearwaters 🐤. Most of the chicks had been exposed to large quantities of ingested plastic, while a few were mostly clean (our "control" birds). The aim of the research is to compare how well these two groups perform over the next 12 months: do birds with plastic fly slower, take a different migration route, or perhaps not survive as long?
We will know the answers to these questions sooner than you think because one of the amazing features of these tags is the fact they communicate in real-time with the ARGOS satellites in Earth's atmosphere 🛰️ 🌏. That means our team is able to log into an iPhone app and check on the birds every day to figure out exactly where each one is located, and how far they flew in 24 hr. Amazing!!
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: a heartfelt thanks to our gorgeous Adrift Lab team for working so hard on Lord Howe Island (often late into the night) to capture the birds and help with deploying the tags - you legends! Of course, we're grateful to BOU for funding the tags, and Detached Cultural Organization for funding for other aspects of the research. Grateful to our many project partners and co-authors, including but not limited to the spectacularly helpful and wonderful Caitlin and Justin from LHI Marine Parks and Nicola from the LHI Board, Karen from Australian Geographic Magazine (make sure to check out the Jun/Jul 2022 issue!), and Amelia and Cam from Envoy Films.