iTAG: Integrating a Cloud Based, Collaborative Animal Tracking Network into the GCOOS data portal in the Gulf of Mexico

Barbara A Kirkpatrick, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, Sarasota, FL, United States, Robert Dudley Currier, Texas A & M University College Station, College Station, TX, United States and Chris Simoniello, Texas A&M University, Oceanography, SAINT PETERSBURG, FL, United States
The tagging and tracking of aquatic animals using acoustic telemetry hardware has traditionally been the purview of individual researchers that specialize in single species. Concerns over data privacy and unauthorized use of receiver arrays have prevented the construction of large-scale, multi-species, multi-institution, multi-researcher collaborative acoustic arrays. We have developed a toolset to build the new portal using the Flask microframework, Python language, and Twitter bootstrap. Initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The privacy policy has been praised for its granularity: principal investigators can choose between three levels of privacy for all data and hardware:
  • Completely private – viewable only by the PI
  • Visible to iTAG members
  • Visible to the general public

 At the time of this writing iTAG is still in the beta stage, but the feedback received to date indicates that with the proper design and security features, and an iterative cycle of feedback from potential members, constructing a collaborative acoustic tracking network system is possible. Initial usage will be limited to the entry and searching for ‘orphan/mystery’ tags, with the integration of historical array deployments and data following shortly thereafter. We have also been working with staff from the Ocean Tracking Network to allow for integration of the two systems. The database schema of iTAG is based on the marine metadata convention for acoustic telemetry. This should permit machine-to-machine data exchange between iTAG and OTN. The integration of animal telemetry data into the GCOOS portal will allow researchers to easily access the physiochemical oceanography data, thus allowing for a more in depth understanding of animal response and usage patterns.