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Featured Case Study  
University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratory Tracking Fine-Scale Movement of Dock Shrimp
Kelp Crab in the San Juan Archipelago
with Marine Bioacoustics Workshop Students

Hosts: Cornell University, University of Washington, HTI
Location: U.W. Friday Harbor Lab, San Juan Island, WA

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Tracking shrimp and crab behavior with acoustic telemetry.


Nearly 70 miles north of Seattle in a quiet cove on San Juan Island is the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL). This unique center for marine biological research hosts collaborative studies and workshops under the direction of world-class university professors and staff. Nearly every other year, a talented group of scientists and researchers reconvenes at a bioacoustic workshop to study the secret underwater lives of the San Juan Archipelago.

One of the objectives of the 2013 workshop was to develop a technique for monitoring the three-dimensional movement in real-time of the local dock shrimp (Pandalus danae) and kelp crab (Pugettia producta). To see the behavior of these shrimp and crab in fine-scale and in real-time required HTI's Model 290 Acoustic Tag Tracking System. It was installed at the FHL dock and breakwater. Dock shrimp and crab were tracked with acoustic tags for a 5 day period.


The length of the shrimp ranged from 73 to 90 mm; weight ranged from 5 to 9 g. Model 795 Micro Acoustic Tags weighed in at 0.65 gm each and operated at 307 kHz. Each tag was programmed with an encoded pulse width of 2 milliseconds and a pulse repetition interval of 2.0-2.2 seconds. Hydrophone mounting positions were modeled to ensure sub-meter 3D positioning. The 3D tracks for the shrimp and crab were monitored in real-time and recorded throughout the study.

Various swimming behaviors were observed, including vertical and horizontal excursions of tagged shrimp. The 3D positions of the shrimp movements showed that they tended to spend time directly below a floating break-water. The two tagged crab also spent the majority of their time in front of the breakwater. Three-dimensional animations were used to visualize their behavior over the study period.

Until recently, there has been little existing information on the continuous, fine-scale swimming behaviors of marine animals. These studies provide invaluable data regarding the home range of individuals tagged over the course of a week.

HTI is proud to be involved with the bioacoustic workshop at FHL and would like to extend our appreciation for the many efforts of Chuck Greene and Louise McGarry at Cornell University.

To ask a question about the Marine Bioacoustics Workshop or the acoustic telemetry systems used to monitor aquatic behavior, email Sam or Kevin at or call them at (206) 633-3383.

  Senior Fisheries Scientist, Kevin Kumagai illustrates multiple tagged shrimp behavior simultaneously tracked in one area over several days.

Sr. Scientist, Sam Johnston teaching an acoustic telemetry workshop.
  Senior Fisheries Scientist, Sam Johnston shows other examples of monitoring fish passage.
Marine Bioacoustics Workshop Students creating animations of the acoustic telemetry data.
  After collecting behavioral data for the shrimp and crab at the dock, the class returned to the lab to create visualizations.

  Kevin and Sam pull various data sources to create dynamic behaivoral
  A brilliant group of researchers and another successful Marine Bioacoustics Workshop held at Friday Harbor Labs.

Tracking marine animals continuously, in 3 dimensions, and in-real time opens up a whole new approach to studying behavioral ecology in the ocean. - Chuck Greene, Cornell University
Cornell University Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Chuck Greene, Professor     
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