Sunday, January 17, 2010

Acronym in marine biology: TOPP for tagging of Pacific pelagics

Tagging of Pacific pelagics (TOPP) is a program of the international Census of marine life (CoML) that began in 2000 [1-3]. The TOPP project is taking a multispecies approach. It leads to understanding of pelagic habitat use by Pacific predator species such as marine vertebrates and large squid in the North Pacific. The TOPP Census page is a portal to maps, data and references to published studies on behavior, distribution and migration patterns of sea birds, whales, seals, bluefin tuna, white sharks and many other animals.
In a current Bay Nature article [2], Glen Martin summarizes recent TOPP activities and results with a focus on white sharks:
During the past decade, TOPP has deployed sophisticated satellite archival tags and sonic tags on 4,000 individual Pacific predators including blue whales, elephant seals, leatherback turtles, black-footed albatrosses, bluefin tuna, and blue, white, mako and salmon sharks.
Among the findings of this research: contrary to past assumptions, white aharks are not coastal homebodies. Early conclusions by TOPP scientists—published in 2002— demonstrated that white sharks are wide-ranging, venturing far into the Pacific, with one individual traveling 3,800 kilometers in 40 days to the west coast of Kahoolawe Island in the Hawaiian archipelago.
Tagging studies revealed that white sharks converge at the “White Shark Café”, an area at about equal distances away from Hawaii and the Californian coast. What are these top—or better TOPP—predators doing there?

Keywords: oceanography, tracking of marine species, Pacific Ocean, migration of white sharks

[1] Barbara A. Block, Daniel P. Costa, George W. Boehlert and Randy E. Kochevar: Revealing pelagic habitat use: the tagging of Pacific pelagics progam. Ocean. Acta 2003, 25, 255-266. PDF.
[2] Glen Martin: Beyond JawsFathoming the Ways of the White Shark. Bay Nature January-March 2010, pp. 16-19, 23. Online-Article.
[3] Tagging of Pacific Predators: TOPP.

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