I have recently come across three innovative animal tracking projects.
First, there is The Great Turtle Race. This follows the progress of 11 turtles as they swim from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands. I was going to put my money on Stephanie Coburtle to win the contest, but then I realized that this race is just an ivory tower liberal elitist enterprise which would never allow Stephen Colbert's turtle to take it all.
Second, scientists are enlisting narwhals to measure the water temperature around Greenland.
The two lead scientists -- Kristin Laidre at the Polar Science Center and Mads Peter Heide-Jorgensen at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources -- hope to attach satellite tags to as many as 10 narwhals over the course of a year. The tags have time, depth and temperature recorders that will allow researchers to track whale movements and diving behavior and ocean temperatures in Baffin Bay.I am all for strapping satellite tags on creatures, and if you are going to go that far, might as well have them gather other data for you as well.
Third, is the ebird project.
A real-time, online checklist program, eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.I like the open source approach to data collection, and the mapping and data analysis that you can do on the site is pretty cool.
eBird’s goal is to maximize the utility and accessibility of the vast numbers of bird observations made each year by recreational and professional bird watchers. It is amassing one of the largest and fastest growing biodiversity data resources in existence. For example, in 2006, participants reported more than 4.3 million bird observations across North America.