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Case Study: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ocean with Dr. Barbara Block

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Dr. Block, whose input was integral to the development of our powerful LTD 2310 archival tag, is a professor in Marine Sciences at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, and one of the founders of its Tuna Research and Conservation Center. Her research, which investigates how large pelagic fishes utilize the open ocean environment, requires smart and robust monitoring devices that can operate effectively on such species as giant bluefin tuna.

Dr. Block provided crucial feedback to us about the “beta” versions of the LTD 2310. One early problem that she reported involved the tag’s sensor stalk, which was initially too abrasive for use on tuna. To remedy this, we tripled the coating at the base of the stalk to increase the tag’s bio-compatibility. Other modifications followed, many based on her valuable tests and input. Her meticulous troubleshooting contributions were also a key factor in improvements made to both the firmware within the tag and the software that interprets its collected data.

Thanks to our partnership, our LTD 2310 is now a tried-and-tested research tool, and Dr. Block has been able to pioneer its use to gain valuable new insights into tuna migration. For example, in a recent paper she revealed that what were previously thought to be two separate stocks of tuna, one in the Mediterranean and the other on the east coast of North America, are in fact one single stock that travels all the way across the ocean to reach separate spawning and foraging areas. Her discovery has had a significant impact on the world’s understanding and management of this valuable and increasingly scarce resource.

Dr. Block is also using our archival tags to unlock the secrets of the open ocean environment itself. As her work with the Census of Marine Life and Tagging of Pacific Pelagic (TOPP) research projects demonstrates, she is leading the way in providing some of the best ocean observation data available in the world today, thanks in no small part to our LTD 2310 and her contributions as a beta tester.

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