An investigation of tracking of marine mammals
Griesel, Jakobus Daniel
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Animal tracking devices are frequently used for wildlife studies. Yrless International (PTY) Ltd specialises in the development of such tracking systems. In an effort to expand their service related to market needs, a marine mammal tracking system must be developed. This dissertation forms part of an initial investigation into such a system. The three main aspects that are addressed are acquiring the animal's location, relaying that information to a server for easy access and interpreting the data. After this a conceptual design of the system is proposed. GPS is chosen as tracking method, mainly because similar tracking devices are already in use in current tracking products, has been used in previous studies and they delivered promising results during the preliminary study. Tests are done to optimise the GPS receiver in a marine mammal environment and to keep the GPS in a "warm start" mode to decrease location acquisition time. Geolocation calculations, which use sunrise and sunset times for estimating location, are considered as an alternative or complementary method to assist GPS. For relaying information GSM and RF protocols are investigated. An implementation of RF protocol is developed with consideration of practical implementation on marine mammals and optimising power consumption. A conceptual design is developed from requirements of the final product. The operation of the marine mammal tracking system is similar to current tracking units. The knowledge gained from this study and system development serves as important steppingstones towards providing researchers with a small, efficient and low cost tracking device for marine mammals.
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