Satellite Telemetry Tags

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe term “satellite telemetry tag” is used broadly to describe electronic tags which use Earth-orbiting satellite systems, like GPS or Argos, to determine their location.

The Microwave Telemetry PTT-100 is a relatively small, simple satellite tag used in tracking large-scale movements and behaviors of animals like albatrosses, which spend most of their time out of the water.  This tag is nothing more than a fancy radio transmitter that is powerful enough for Earth-orbiting satellites to hear.  The tag transmits a signal every 90 seconds and if a receiving satellite is within range, it will “hear” the signal from the tag.  The satellites that receive the data are part of the Argos satellite system.  We generally receive 7-20 locations per day but 13 on average (about 1 every 2 hours).

The tag is usually attached to feathers on a bird’s back, using medical grade adhesive tape that is waterproof.  Deployments are conducted when the bird is breeding, so tags are recovered after trips which typically last 10-30 days.

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