Project: Development of an Acoustic Accelerometer Transmitter for Marine Species

Background:_x000D_Thelma develops and sells miniature acoustic transmitters with sensors that can be inserted into the stomach or abdomen of fish, so-called TAGs. A TAG measures vital parameters in the fish such as depth below surface, temperature, heart rate, muscle activity, etc. and transmits the result in real time to a surface vessel or an anchored receiver with data logger. The TAG also transmits an identification number so that each individual fish that has been tagged can be identified and traced. _x000D__x000D_The customers of Thelma are primarily marine biologists and research scientists. The market for fish TAGs is characterized by a few international players, where the two Canadian companies Vemco and Lotek are the most important ones. Thelma is a small and dynamic company who easily can make custom adapted products and solutions suitable for specific needs. _x000D__x000D_Thelma has noticed a growing demand for new technology from research groups (including the Marine Research Institute, Bergen, Norway), politicians and traders of fish farming products. They request more information about fish behavior (movement patterns) and fish welfare (level of stress). Thelma see the opportunity to meet these market demands and strengthen its market position significantly by developing a new type of TAG with built-in acceleration sensor. Such sensor is capable of measuring various kinds of fish movement and can thus provide information about fish behavior and welfare. An important goal of the project is to miniaturize the solution so that it fits into the smallest TAG sizes that Thelma offers. _x000D__x000D_CO technological challenge:_x000D_The CO technological challenge is expected to be the development of algorithms and software for the microprocessor to extract vital information from the accelerometer and transmit only relevant information. What is defined as vital information will vary significantly over the range of biological application. It is therefore likely that one hardware product (TAG) can be used in a broad range of biological applications if proper algorithms can be developed. Such algorithms should be adapted to wild fish of different kinds as well as farm fish. Miniaturization is another challenge. The application range, and thus market value will increase significantly if such sensor can be implemented in the smallest TAGs available. _x000D__x000D_Market:_x000D_Most fish telemetry products today are developed for the wild fish market. Thelma intents to broaden its market activity to include fish farming and agriculture. An accelerator TAG is expected to play a very important role in such applications, both for monitoring fish behavior in the nets, as well as for monitoring the transportation process from growing net, into transportation ship, intermediate storage net and finally transport into slaughter facility. The fish meat quality degrades with fish stress, and the consumer market demand high quality. There is also an increasing focus on the stress of fish from an ethical point of view. There is therefore a rapidly growing need for documentation of stress levels in fish. An accelerometer TAG will be able to document stress level and report objective measures that can be presented for the fish traders. _x000D__x000D_Consortium:_x000D_Thelma has the necessary facilities and personnel to develop the electronics and software to realize a TAG with accelerometer sensor. When hardware and software have been developed, time to market is very short. The new product will fit perfectly into Thelma’s ordinary production line with only a few weeks delivery time._x000D__x000D_A key to success will be knowledge and experience about what information is valuable for the different applications. Personnel with skills and experience with fish telemetry should therefore work close together with the development team in Thelma in order to design algorithms as well as test the algorithms in model tanks and in real environment in lakes, rivers or the sea. A consortium has been established between Thelma and Institute of Oceanography (IO), Portugal (legally represented by FFCUL). _x000D__x000D_This institute is a multidisciplinary research unit, integrated in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL), that congregates the necessary expertise and equipment to perform the laboratory and field experiments designed to test the new accelerometer TAG with live specimens. The knowledge of the researchers involved is complementary, and it guarantees the necessary skills to apply several biotelemetry techniques, including different procedures to implant the TAG and also distinct tracking methodologies. There is also a profound knowledge on the species selected to test the new TAG, the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801), including its behaviour and the know-how to COtain this species in captivity. The familiarity with the estuarine ecosystem, where part of the experiments are going to take place increases also the rate of success of the field trials._x000D__x000D_

Acronym AccelTag (Reference Number: 4426)
Duration 04/08/2008 - 02/07/2010
Project Topic Extend the product range and market potential of Thelma by developing a new TAG, i.e. small device that can be implanted into fish, measure tilt and roll angles as well as any sudden movement of the fish and transmit results to marine biologists or research scientists who study fish behavior.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
A new product has been developed, the AccelTag which is an acoustic fish telemetry transmitter with a built-in 3-axis accelerometer sensor. The transmitter has been realized in 13mm diameter, and also minituarized to 9mm diameter. The transmitter has been tested in a scientific way in the laboratory and in the field, and worked according to the expectations as a means to detect certain fish movements and behaviours.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 Fundacao da Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa Partner Portugal
2 Thelma AS Coordinator Norway