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A Blubber- or Dorsal Fin-Piercing Tag Attachment System for Remotely-Deployed Cetacean Tags
Phone: (360) 584-9303
Phone: (360) 584-9303
TECHNICAL ABSTRACT: Animal-borne electronic instruments (tags) are critical tools for monitoring the behavior and ecology of cetaceans, providing data needed for managing their populations and mitigating the threats they face. Although remote-deployment of tags onto cetaceans that cannot be captured has provided valuable data, attachment durations have been frustratingly short and variable. Our Phase I objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of an alternative tag attachment element for remote deployment of tags, onto small- to medium-sized cetaceans, that eliminates implanted sharp surfaces, has a compliance closer to tissue than the current generation of rigid metallic implants, and decreases the chances of attachment element breakage. We propose a
truly biocompatible tag attachment element that pierces only blubber or dorsal fin tissue. Our approach will include CAD, finite element analysis, and production of prototypes for conducting static and dynamic force testing. The biomaterial offering the best combination of strength, flexibility, elasticity, and biocompatibility, while still functioning effectively to anchor an external tag package will be determined. This innovation would be readily commercialized, as we have done for many other biomedical/surgical products, and it would realize the goal of longer and more consistent attachment durations while minimizing the impact on tagged whales.SUMMARY OF ANTICIPATED RESULTS: We will expand on our preliminary results and demonstrate that a blubber- or dorsal fin-piercing attachment element provides greater resistance to detachment when exposed to external
forces, while minimizing the transfer of forces to the implanted element. This will reduce the mechanical irritation of tissues, and decouple the extreme forces of con-specific interactions, resulting in longer, more consistent attachment, beyond multi-month. A successful Phase I and II study will result in a vastly improved product for attaching and securing a wide variety of biotelemetry tags to cetaceans, and that product will be beneficial to cetacean scientists in academia and in the Federal Government, especially the NOAA Fisheries regional science centers.
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