SeaTag: Electronic Tags of the Future; A NOAA SBIR Success Story
Studying animal migration is very important for understanding how different marine life utilizes our world’s Oceans, Rivers, and Streams. This is increasingly important as the population of commercial fisheries dwindle and the consumption of apex predators hasn’t been curbed.
In 2007, NOAA published a solicitation for a small business to develop new electronic tags. The requirements of the new tagging technologies included an innovative geolocation mechanism, variety of ocean sensors, and reduced cost.
Desert Star Systems LLC of Marina, California was one of the two companies awarded a SBIR Phase I contract to develop new tagging technologies. Desert Star took the challenge a few steps further by creating a line of tags instead of a single tag, SeaTag was born. The SeaTag electronic tag line would answer all of the requirements of the SBIR solicitation but at the same time expand on them.
INNOVATIVE GEOLOCATION MECHANISM
SeaTags are the only tags in the world to use onboard magnetometers to estimate latitude. This compares to other electronic tags that only rely on light signals which can change based on many environmental factors.
VARIETY OF OCEAN SENSORS
SeaTags are the only tags in the world to use a stored solar power system that is capable of running for up to two weeks of total darkness. SeaTags are equipped with an array of unique sensors such as solar cells, magnetometers, accelerometers, precision depth sensors, and temperature sensors. This combined are able to answer questions that no other tag can such as feeding and matting behaviors.
Despite the significant benefits of the new tag technologies, the tags themselves cost half the price of alternative technologies.
Because SeaTags were developed through the SBIR Progam future R&D funding can be directly received, without competitive bidding, to improve or create new related tag technologies. Currently Desert Star is working on development of a small satellite transmitter that will be used on juvenile sea turtles. This project was funded by the NOAA ASWTG Program with a NOAA SBIR Phase III Contract.