We had 5 days to prep 4 tags—should be doable, right? Add a couple extra pairs of hands to help and it should be a walk in the park…right?
Maybe I should start with the fact that I had no experience refurbishing and prepping tags before the Tag Workshop hosted by Dr. Markus Horning at ASLC.
The idea of hosting this Tag Workshop grew out of the need to refurbish some heat flux biologgers (read more about these tags in my previous blog) for my upcoming fieldwork in the spring, and retrofit additional sensors, and on a shoestring budget at that.
Science on a shoestring budget = innovation and creativity
These tags were originally manufactured by Wildlife Computers (Redmond, WA) for an NSF-funded project investigating thermoregulation in Weddell seals, more than 10 years ago. Since these tags have been attached to many other animals during their lifetime (Weddell seals, elephant seals, Steller sea lions), they were now due for some rejuvenation. This also gave us the opportunity to consider different sensor configurations than what is typically provided.
The shoestring budget meant that we do the work of replacing batteries ourselves, and that rather than using fancy but expensive waterproof interchangeable connectors we ‘hardwired’ the sensors to the electronics. The shoestring budget is also why I am using old, ‘surplus’ tags rather than buying new tags that can cost several thousand dollars each, depending on their configuration.
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