A tagged shark in Maui

Photo credit: Mark Royer, HIMB

Movements of marine animals are a fundamental element of ocean ecosystem dynamics. Telemetry, the use of electronic tag technology to study animal movement, is a critical tool for the biological monitoring of marine life. The multi-agency U.S. Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) has been established to provide unity, stability, and continuity to the national infrastructure that facilitates the collection, management, and availability of this marine animal telemetry data. To accomplish its mission, the ATN is implemented on these three foundational pillars: 

1) Building Alliances and Collaborations, 

2) Providing Telemetry Data Aggregation, Management, Display and Delivery, and 

3) Funding High Priority Regional Baseline Animal Telemetry Observations.

Gathering information on the behavior and movement of marine animals is an essential part of the responsibilities of our national agencies charged with protecting endangered and threatened marine species, sustaining fisheries, as well as informing ecosystem-based management. These data and information, collected remotely via acoustic, archival, and satellite telemetry techniques, assists specifically with implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Fur Seal Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and performing National Environmental Policy Act analyses. Furthermore, telemetry data can be integrated with other IOOS data streams to inform oceanographic, weather, and climate-related data products.

U.S. ATN Telemetry Asset Inventory

Telemetry Asset Inventories are displayed on the ATN Data Assembly Center (DAC) Data Portal as map-based layers illustrating where existing regional telemetry projects and science capabilities are located. The information is intended to enable the ATN to more effectively accomplish its coordination and sustainability objectives. The primary audiences for this information are the ATN funding agencies, the ATN Steering Group (federal agencies and non-federal organizations), and the telemetry research community. To access the map-based inventories click on  

If you have questions or wish to update your data, please contact the U.S. Animal Telemetry Network Coordinator (


Click on the map below to enter the ATN DAC DATA Portal


Related Resources:

Ocean Tracking Network (OTN):

Mid-Atlantic Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (MATOS):

Florida Atlantic Coast Telemetry (FACT) Network:

Pacific Islands Region Acoustic Telemetry (PIRAT) Network:

Animal Telemetry Observations and Applications

Benefits and beneficiaries of a national ATN include:

  • Providing a scientific basis for marine fisheries and protected-endangered species management. 
  • Defining essential or critical habitats. 
  • Providing real-time monitoring of marine fish, turtles, birds, and mammals.
  • Evaluating the potential effects of anthropogenic disturbances. 
  • Improving coupled ocean-atmosphere observation and forecasting models. 


U.S. ATN tag infographic


How does ATN do this?

  • Compiling and archiving national telemetry datasets from partner agencies, institutions, and scientists
  • Standardizing telemetry data products and making them publicly accessible
  • Collaborating with world-leading animal telemetry scientists and practitioners
  • Funding for priority marine life telemetry projects, including hardware, telemetry infrastructure, and data support
  • Contact for more details


Two photos of a salmon release and a tagged shark

Photo credits: Tim Sheehan/Tobey Curtis

Case Study

Sharks as Oceanographers
New advances in satellite tag technology allow marine animals to transmit ocean temperature-depth profiles in addition to tracking their movements.


ATN Steering Group. Comprised of 13 members from federal government agencies and non-federal sectors, the SG has been established to provide guidance and leadership on the development and implementation of the ATN Plan in partnership with the IOOC member agencies, the IOOS Program Office, IOOS Regional Associations and regional subject matter experts.


WMO Data Conference - November 16-19, 2020


The concepts for an Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) were initially developed through two workshops held in 2011 in Santa Cruz (Download a copy of the workshop report here) and 2012 in Washington D.C., and refined and reported in several publications:

  • IOOS Summit white paper (Download here)
  • ATN Strategy and Recommendations document (Download here)
  • Animal Biotelemetry paper (Download here)
  • ATN Implementation Plan (Download here)
  • ATN DAC Data Management Policy Guidance (Download here)


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