Go Go Gadget on the Go

Go Go Gadget on the Go
Marine Mammal Research Unit

The sea lions and fur seals in the Consortium’s captive research program work with researchers to test hypotheses that explain why their numbers have declined in Alaska.  They also help to develop and test new technologies that can be taken to the field to collect data from their wild counterparts.  The following video report highlights the important contribution of the marine mammals housed at the Vancouver Aquarium to solving some of the perplexing marine mysteries that are unfolding around the world.



Prey capture attempts can be detected in Steller sea lions and other marine predators using accelerometers.
Viviant, M., A.W. Trites, D.A.S. Rosen, P. Monestiez and C. Guinet. 2010.
Polar Biology 33:713-719.
We attached accelerometers to the head and jaw of a Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) to determine whether feeding attempts in a controlled setting could be quantified by acceleration features characteristic of head and jaw movements. Most of the 19 experimental feeding events that occurred during the 51 dives recorded resulted in specific acceleration patterns that were clearly distinguishable from swimming accelerations. The differential acceleration between the head-mounted and jaw-mounted accelerometers detected 84% of prey captures on the vertical axis and 89% on the horizontal axis. However, the jaw-mounted accelerometer alone proved to be equally effective at detecting prey capture attempts. Acceleration along the horizontal (surge)-axis appeared to be particularly efficient in detecting prey captures, and suggests that a single accelerometer placed under the jaw of a pinniped is a promising and easily implemented means of recording prey capture attempts.
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