March 2014 Newsletter by Thomas Gray (
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March 2014 Newsletter


Hello everyone and welcome to our latest Newsletter. As most of you know I try to keep the Newsletters informative and when available provide data from our customers in the form of data from the tags, pictures, videos, or other interesting tidbits from their deployments.

However, this month I'm going to switch it up. There are so many things going on in the background here at Desert Star. I wanted to give you an idea of what we are doing and what our plans are with the SeaTag line this year. I apologize in advance for the more sales directed Newsletter, but I expect you will still find it rather interesting and fun.

As always, any feedback on our Newsletters is welcomed and appreciated (see the survey link at the bottom). If you want us to cover any specific topic(s) please email me and let me know. Also feel free to share this with friends and/or colleagues.

Thank you,

Thomas Gray

PS: If you would like to be involved in our newsletter and have any images, data, or other information you would like to share with the scientific community please touch base with myself, Thomas

PPS: If you are wondering how you got on this list to begin with the answer is I either pulled your name and email from an interesting paper I read online, an article I found, or perhaps from one of the conferences you and/or I attended. You can unsubscribe at any time.

80 Tags Destined for King Crab

Before shipping our largest single tag shipment to Chris Long, we had a little fun. We thought the tags would enjoy one final day at the beach before hitting the frigid Alaskan waters.

Chris Long works at NOAA, Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Kodiak Laboratory in Kodiak, Alaska and plans to use these tags to study king crab migration.
We are expecting that the magnetic data coupled with the pop-up location will give us some insight on where the crabs are moving during their mating season.

TagSafe: Insurance for Non-Reporting Tags!

TagSafe is the first insurance program that covers non-reporting satellite tags. A recent discussion "PSAT Meta Data Analysis Project" presented by a team of eight biologists showed that of 177 tags deployed on a wide range of species (blue marlin, loggerhead sea turtles, thresher shark, and swordfish to name a few) only 59% reported data. 

Another publication "Performance of pop-up satellite archival tags" published by a group of ten biologists reviewed their 731 deployments on 19 species against reporting rates of 1433 deployments on 24 species taken from 53 published articles. The authors' reporting rate was 79% compared to 76% of the 53 published articles.

The point that I am getting at is that on average at least 1 in every 5 deployed tags will not be heard from again. Sometimes this number was higher (see first comment of 41% non-reporting) and sometimes it is lower. This is a gamble you should not have to take; that cost can add up quickly!

Traditionally it was just something a biologist had to deal with, factor in to their project, but it is an expensive pill to swallow no matter how you look at it. That is why we came up with TagSafe. TagSafe is your insurance against tags that do not report. The cost is minimal, 1/5th the tag cost, and if the tag does not report we send you a replacement at no additional cost.

While we understand that this does not remedy the fact that a tag is floating around the Ocean somewhere with a goldmine of information it does at least mitigate some of the costs of replacing that tag. We are currently offering this for our SeaTag pop-up satellite tags (-MOD, -GEO, -3D). If you have already deployed tags and want to retroactively purchase TagSafe please contact me.

[SeaTag-3D] Development Begins on Smallest Pop-Up Satellite Tag with Depth, Temperature, and Magnetics

We have begun development on our smallest depth sensor equipped pop-up satellite tag. It takes capabilities from both SeaTag-MOD and SeaTag-GEO, pictured above, and molds them into one, SeaTag-3D (Part Number ST-3D).

The SeaTag-3D is equipped with our battery-less power system (wrap around solar panel with internal capacitor pack). There is an optional battery placed in the base of the tag to augment power requirements when tags are used on groundfish or in turbid, freshwater environment. In addition the battery powers the initial Argos messages after popping off the fish.

The SeaTag-3D has a depth sensor, temperature sensor, and enough memory to store up to 60,000 packets (ie: daily summaries, sensor reading, and depth histograms). We anticipate the size to be about 0.5 inches longer than the SeaTag-GEO. It will maintain the same slender low-drag design.

Like other SeaTag devices it will be priced appropriate to our N goal. The goal being to use our modular design approach and diversified product line to yield strong economies of scale, translating into products that outperform competing devices with reducing costs to allow for larger studies, or higher N. 

SeaTag-3D can be ordered now with an approximate 6 month lead time while engineering effort continues. Pricing ranges from $1,350 upwards to $2,000 depending on the quantity purchased.

Magnetic Workshop for the Improvement of Magnetic Based Position Estimates

Marco Flagg (chief SeaTag engineer and mad scientist) will be conducting a workshop with US Fish and Wildlife Service in Upstate New York (see map above for general location) from April 14th through the 18th. The purpose of this workshop is to improve magnetic based position estimates for tags being deployed during Spring 2014 in Lake Ontario.

This workshop is open to anyone interested in SeaTag devices. There is no cost to attend. If you do have an interest in attending one or more days or have any questions please contact Thomas Gray at

The outline is as follows:

April 14th: Introduction to the methods and technology (mainly classroom)
April 15th: High-accuracy tag calibration (classroom and outdoors)
April 16th: Testing in tagging environment (outdoors - possibly near fish habitat sites)
April 17th: Data processing and accuracy evaluation (outdoors to recover tags - classroom)
April 18th: Open discussions, data evaluation, and review (classroom - maybe outdoors)

We are continuing to solicit responses to our animal tagging survey so I will leave this survey attached to our newsletters. Taking the 3-5 minutes to complete the six question survey allows us to better cater our tag development and our monthly newsletters to your requests, wants, and needs.

Please click on this link to get to the survey. The first three questions are yes/no and related directly to these newsletters. Thank you for taking the time to fill out the survey and if you have any questions please use the comment field (Question 6) to let us know.

URL for survey:
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