THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

MARINE ANIMAL SATELLITE TAG

photo of a satellite tagging system

Satellite tags are attached by marine biologists to many kinds of large animals living in the ocean. The tags collect information about the position of the animal (such as a shark, whale or sea elephant), the temperature of the water, and the environment to learn about migratory patterns and behavior of the sea creatures. Oceanographers also use the data to incorporate knowledge about salinity and temperature in their ocean observatory systems, which in turn feed into the latest climate models. The satellite tag is such a curious object not only because it allows researchers to learn more about animal behavior, but because it turns the animal into a cyborg collaborator in the distributed cognition system that is increasingly encircling the planet. Tagged animals help to incorporate remote environments into our digital representation of nature that we perceive as mediated by our virtual data collections. Since the gathered data is also used to sound out Marine Protected Areas, tagged animal can even be said to be involved in policy-making processes. Thus, tagging a marine animal gives them a new kind of agency that could only arise in the Anthropocene - the satellite tag records the perspective of animals that have lived on the planet for a lot longer than humans and helps us learn more about the impact we have had on the planet.

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