We evaluated the utility of a satellite-linked GPS in obtaining location data from Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). A unit was attached to one of the tusks of each of three adult male walruses in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The units were designed to relay GPS positions through the Argos Data Collection and Location System. The GPS was only minimally effective in obtaining location data. An average of only 5% of the attempts yielded a position, and only a small number of these were locations at sea. The paucity of successful attempts was probably due to infrequent and brief surfacings of the GPS, the proximity of cliffs to predominant haul-out sites in the study region, and the packing of animals when they were hauled out in herds. Argos was effective in relaying GPS positions in this study, but as GPS technology advances, and its application to marine mammal studies becomes more prevalent, it seems that the greatest challenge to the study of many species will be in data retrieval.
Additional publication details
Performance of a satellite-linked GPS on Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens)