Friday, 8 November 2019

Swordfish as oceanographers: Satellite tags facilitate research of ocean's 'twilight zone' off Florida

NOVEMBER 5, 2019

by Hannah Hickey, University of Washington

Researchers from the University of Washington are using high-tech tags to record the movements of swordfish—big, deep-water, migratory, open-ocean fish that are poorly studied—and get a window into the ocean depths they inhabit.

The researchers tagged five swordfish in late August off the coast of Miami: Max, Simone, Anthony, Rex and Oliver. Their movements can now be viewed in near-real time. And although swordfish are a prized catch, these ones aren't at higher risk, researchers say, since the website updates only every few hours and these fast-swimming fish spend most of their time far from shore.

"These are animals that migrate into the ocean's twilight zone that we know next to nothing about," said Peter Gaube, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. "Swordfish in different regions have very different behavior. We hope to learn more about these amazing animals and their environment as they migrate between regions."

This is the first time satellite position tags have successfully been placed on swordfish caught off the coast of the United States.

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