Towards the integration of animal-borne instruments into global ocean observing systems

David March, Lars Boehme, Joaquín Tintoré, Pedro Joaquín Vélez-Belchi, Brendan J. Godley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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Marine animals are increasingly instrumented with environmental sensors that provide large volumes of oceanographic data. Here, we conduct an innovative and comprehensive global analysis to determine the potential contribution of animal‐borne instruments (ABI) into ocean observing systems (OOSs) and provide a foundation to establish future integrated ocean monitoring programmes. We analyse the current gaps of the long‐term Argo observing system (>1.5 million profiles) and assess its spatial overlap with the distribution of marine animals across eight major species groups (tuna and billfishes, sharks and rays, marine turtles, pinnipeds, cetaceans, sirenians, flying seabirds and penguins). We combine distribution ranges of 183 species and satellite tracking observations from >3,000 animals. Our analyses identify potential areas where ABI could complement OOS. Specifically, ABI have the potential to fill gaps in marginal seas, upwelling areas, the upper 10 m of the water column, shelf regions and polewards of 60° latitude. Our approach provides the global baseline required to plan the integration of ABI into global and regional OOS while integrating conservation and ocean monitoring priorities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Change Biology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2019


  • Animal-borne instruments
  • Argo
  • Global ocean observing system
  • Marine vertebrates
  • Multi-platform ocean observation
  • Operational oceanography
  • Pinnipeds
  • Satellite tracking
  • Sea turtles


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