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 as well as providing ecosystem-based management of commercially harvested marine resources. This data and information, collected remotely via acoustic and satellite telemetry techniques, assists specifically with implementing the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Fur Seal Act, performing National Environmental Policy Act analyses, providing Incidental Harassment Authorizations and conducting Section 7 Interagency Consultations.
The data is applied broadly to assess marine animal habitat use, detect changes in their migratory routes in relation to oil & gas activities and climate variability, monitor changing movement patterns with increasing ship traffic to assist with marine mammal avoidance, and improve abundance/population estimates to ensure both the conservation and sustainable management of commercially harvested species as well as responsibly sustained subsistence livelihoods.
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 being implemented in three Phases and 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.
U.S. ATN Telemetry Asset Inventory
The Acoustic Telemetry Asset and Satellite Telemetry Project Inventories are displayed on the ATN DAC Data Portal as map-based layers illustrating where existing regional telemetry projects and science capabilities are located. The inventory data were collected between May and September 2019 via google questionnaire requests sent to over 600 researchers asking for information about their telemetry projects. 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 (9 federal agencies and 4 non-federal organizations), and the telemetry research community. To access the map-based inventories click on https://portal.atn.ioos.us/ then below the thumbnail picture of the inventory map click on the desired map.
- How is this data different than the ATN Data Assembly Center (DAC) Data Portal?
These inventory layers assist the U.S. ATN in executing its coordination and collaborative community building responsibilities by illustrating geographically where U.S. animal telemetry satellite and acoustic-based assets and capabilities are located. The DAC Data Portal is a community resource where the data collected by these assets and capabilities is aggregated in a single place and one-stop-shopping is provided for display of and access to U.S. national animal telemetry data. The DAC Data Portal both serves national stakeholder needs effectively plus provides cost/time savings to participating animal telemetry principal investigators.
- How is this different than the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN) Data Warehouse?
While the ATN Data Assembly Center (DAC) and these inventory layers are focused on U.S. telemetry data, the OTN Data Warehouse is responsible for the collection, aggregation, cross-referencing, and dissemination (both public and private) of global acoustic detection data. The OTN Data Warehouse also maintains linkages to sibling acoustic telemetry data centers all over the world, and feeds global biogeographical information systems such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) with animal tracking data as it is eventually made publicly available under the terms of the OTN Data Policy.
- How often will this inventory be updated?
This is intended to be a living and active process to which updates can be regularly added by individual PIs. The ATN intends to conduct a full-scale review of the inventory status every 12-18 months.
- Who do I contact to update my data?
If you wish to update your data, please contact Bill Woodward, the U.S. Animal Telemetry Network Coordinator (email@example.com) or Megan Treml (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The ATN is grateful for the support provided by the FACT Network, the Atlantic Coast Telemetry (ACT) Network, the Southern California Acoustic Telemetry Tracking Network (SCATTN), the Wood Hole Group Argos Services Team, and by all of the satellite and acoustic telemetry principal investigators who responded to our request for information.
Click on the map below to enter the ATN DAC DATA Portal
Animal Telemetry Observations and Applications
Benefits and beneficiaries of a national ATN include:
Providing the scientific basis for marine fisheries and protected-endangered species management. This includes fisheries management as mandated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) as mandated under the National Ocean Policy implementation plan, and management decisions for the recovery of protected marine species, such as marine mammals, fish and turtles as mandated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ATN will provide near real-time geospatial data integral to realistic parameterization of spatially explicit population and fishery assessment models. Such models assist with the conservation of species and the maintenance of biodiversity ensuring U.S. adherence to international agreements that provide a policy framework for effective management of trans-boundary fisheries and global oceans, such as the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and the International Convention on Biological Biodiversity. (Beneficiaries: Primarily NOAA, USFWS, and state agencies as the primary agencies charged with aquatic species management in coastal waters – secondarily any other agency or researcher whose activities may impact those species).
Defining essential or critical habitats for species protected under the ESA and MMPA through the investigation of regional connectivity of marine biological resources and integration of ocean observation systems across large marine ecosystems, sanctuaries, and marine protected areas. NOAA and USFWS among other agencies will benefit from such efforts.
Providing real-time monitoring of marine fish, turtles, birds, and mammals that facilitates management of marine protected areas, identification of operational windows for construction/dredging or other industrial activities, assessing the impact of major environmental events, and the enforcement of fisheries regulations, to avoid harming sensitive stocks and to improve fisheries harvests. Beneficiaries from such data include: NOAA, NPS, NAVY, and BOEM.
Evaluating the potential effects of anthropogenic disturbances. ATN will provide the critical baseline for behavior and movement of aquatic species that will aid agencies and industry that are required to assess the impact of their activities (e.g. coastal/estuarine/riverine development, ocean thermal energy conversion and wind farm energy development, aquaculture sites, military activities, shipping, sewage treatment facilities, and marina development) under U.S. environmental regulations. Among the beneficiaries: BOEM, DOE (Bonneville Power), USFWS, NAVY, NOAA, OR&R, USACE, coastal state resource agency and private industry.
Improving coupled ocean-atmosphere observation and forecasting models. Animal telemetry provides large volumes of oceanographic- water column profiles (temperature, conductivity, light level, oxygen, chlorophyll), and complements gliders and other autonomous vehicle products to provide unique and cost effective data from poorly sampled ocean regions. ATN real-time hydrographic data are served via the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Global Telecommunication System (GTS) to operational forecasting centers and also via ERDDAP. These data provide increased understanding of ecosystem processes and improve predictions of future ecosystem conditions including storms, floods, drought, climatic variation and other weather. Beneficiaries: include NAVY/NAVOCEANO, NOAA/NCEP, USCG, State agencies and private industry.
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.
- The first ATN Steering Group Meeting, June 5-6, 2017
- The second ATN Steering Group Meeting, November 8, 2017
- The third ATN Steering Group Meeting, April 19, 2018
- The fourth ATN Steering Group Meeting, August 23, 2018
- The fifth ATN Steering Group Meeting, August 6, 2019
- The sixth ATN Steering Group Meeting, January 8-9, 2020
- The seventh ATN Steering Group Meeting, August 11, 2020
- The eighth ATN Steering Group Meeting, December 10, 2020
- The ninth ATN Steering Group Meeting, March 26, 2021
WMO Data Conference - November 16-19, 2020
The concepts for an Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) were 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 Coordinator Report #1 to BOEM (Download here)
- ATN Coordinator Report #2 to BOEM (Download here)
Animal Tagging Audio Podcast
Collecting Ocean Data with Marine Mammals. Scientists are enlisting marine mammals with electronic tags to collect critical ocean data from around the nation. NOAA's Integrated Ocean Observing System is working to standardize various tagging programs so researchers can better tap into this data stream.
- "Exploring New Technology Horizons." Solutions Jan. - Feb. 2011: 51-52. Mary Glackin, Tracy Rouleau, Suzanne Skelley, and Zdenka Willis. (pdf)
- Toward a national Animal Telemetry Observing Network (ATN) for our oceans, coasts and great lakes: workshop synthesis report (U.S. IOOS workshop, March 2011, Santa Cruz, California). Moustahfid et al. 2011. U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS, NOAA-TM-NMFS-SWFSC-482,51p. (pdf)
- ATN white paper for the IOOS Summit November 2012. (pdf)
- "Ocean Observations Using Tagged Animals." Oceanography 30(2):139. Roquet, F., L. Boehme, B. Block, J.-B. Charrassin, D. Costa, C. Guinet, R.G. Harcourt, M.A. Hindell, L.A. Hückstädt, C.R. McMahon, B. Woodward, and M.A. Fedak. 2017. (pdf)
- "Animal-Borne Telemetry: an integral component of the ocean observing toolkit”, Rob Harcourt et al., Frontiers in Marine Science, 26 June 2019, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00326 (pdf)
- "A Response to Scientific and Societal Needs for Marine Biological
Observations", Nicholas J. Bax et al., Frontiers in Marine Science, 17 July 2019, https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2019.00395 (pdf)
- "The importance of migratory connectivity for global ocean policy", Daniel C. Dunn, Autumn-Lynn Harrison et al., Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 25 September 2019, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.1472 (pdf)
- "Report of the Joint US Office of Naval Research, International Whaling Commission and US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Workshop on Cetacean Tag Development, Tag Follow-up and Tagging Best Practices" (pdf)
- “A scalable, satellite-transmitted data product for monitoring high-activity events in mobile aquatic animals”, Skubel, R.A., Wilson, K., Papastamatiou, Y.P. et al., Anim Biotelemetry 8, Article Number: 34 (2020). Published 22 November 2020, https://doi.org/10.1186/s40317-020-00220-0 (pdf)
- SECOORA - CARICOOS Animal Telemetry Network Workshop Summary Report
- AOOS Animal Telemetry Network Workshop Summary Report
- GCOOS Animal Telemetry Network Workshop Summary Report
- PacIOOS Animal Telemetry Network Workshop Summary Report
- SCCOOS-CeNCOOS-NANOOS ATN/MBON/OTN Workshop Summary Report
Synthesis of Workshop National & Regional Themes, Needs, Findings, & Recommendations
Refer to the Meetings tab for upcoming meetings, agendas, and minutes for past meetings.