BLS6: Show me the data!

As a nice mix-up to the pace of the week, today was workshop day! Several different sessions broke out into separate rooms for a very wide variety of meetings and discussions on topics ranging from communication in animal groups, assessing the biologging of flight in volant animals, to work in the Galapagos and beyond.

A few of the workshops, however, focused on the ideas of data sharing, integration, and creating a common language across disciplines. While this isn’t the sexiest of discussion points, it does bring up an important issue for any scientific endeavor and seemed to really key-in on the main feeling of this conference. Being that this is my first Biologging conference, it has struck me that the goal of this symposium was not only to share scientific knowledge and catch up with colleagues, but to truly seek to move the field forward in an efficient and productive manner. Even though it may feel small from time to time, science on a global scale is overwhelming large and complex.  Conferences like these seek to connect these gaps and keep it all moving forward.

What people outside of this community may not know, however, is that often these data – whether generated by animal-borne oceanographic samplers or simply the tracks that instrumented marine animals take – are often publicly available!


One such workshop that I attended discussed all the world repositories for oceanic parameters sampled by marine mammals, similar to the work discussed in Casey’s recap of day 2.

These data centers are all overseen by various Global Ocean Observing System committees (or GOOS[e]’s) and can be readily accessed by the public, sometimes with near real-time data. Specifically, “The GOOS is a permanent global system for observations, modeling and analysis of marine and ocean variables to support operational ocean services worldwide.”This is a unique area where the oceanographic and marine animal community overlap, share data, and create standards for collection to mutually benefit two very different disciplines. You can read more about it HERE and access more information about marine animals as oceanographers HERE.

One such data portal for the US, as presented by Barbra Block,  one of the keynotes to speak later in the week, is the Animal Telemetry Network supported by NOAA. This portal is an extremely useful tool where users can access movement data from a variety of species, and the subsequent oceanographic data generated from these tagged animals.


As the speed of science continues to move forward, I foresee that these portals will soon become the standard, especially as many journals now require that all data, analysis code, and methodology be made publicly available and widely sourced. Conferences like this will certainly be the way that we forge this effort in the coming years!

While this may sound all very serious, the structure of the day’s sessions ended a bit earlier than normal and let many attendees break-out into various meetings and discussions over coffee in the glorious afternoon sunshine on the banks of the Rhine before the evening’s gala celebration. All of us are anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s talks, centering around the themes of energetics, migrations, foraging, and physiology from elephants to sea turtles and more!

Tune in tomorrow or more from Konstanz!

Written by: Courtney Shuert

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