An army of sensor-carrying seals have been working to gather information on some of the world's most remote and frigid seas.
The new MEOP (Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole-to-pole) portal will provide open data on regions of the ocean so harsh that they are virtually inaccessible to humans, the University of St. Andrews reported. A group of seals that were outfitted with special noninvasive sensors, allowing them to produce 400,000 environmental profiles that make up what is now the world's largest oceanographic database for polar oceans.
"The fact that animals have collected the data is an interesting innovation in ocean observation. But perhaps of more general importance is that data from these remote and inaccessible places now gives us a much clearer picture of the state of the world's oceans. We have since shown that data from these far-flung locations is critical to understanding the broader state of the Global Ocean," said Mike Fedak, a biology professor at the University of St Andrews.
The sensors send information back to scientists in short messages via satellite.
"The information sent back to us gives us details about the seal's immediate physical environment. It's like tweeting," said Lars Boehme, a lecturer at the University of St Andrews.
Changes in polar regions have a strong influence on global climate and weather patterns. These new observations help identify, and this new information could help scientists keep on eye on these impacts.
"The new portal will make available all the data collected by animals up to now to the wider international scientific community and will import future animal platform data as well. This development is particularly timely as an increasing number of studies now focus on the importance of data from these remote and inaccessible parts of the sea," Boehme concluded.