New project to map the movements of ocean life throughout Europe

Friday 24 Feb 23


Learn more about STRAITS

Protection and management of marine life requires in-depth knowledge of biology and marine ecosystems. A new EU project, STRAITS, in which DTU Aqua is involved, will over the next 4 years strengthen that knowledge by tracking marine life within Europe's four corners.

Animal tracking – methods of studying animal movements – can provide key information about animal biology and ecology. Knowledge that is important in connection with having to protect and manage nature.

If the effort to track and gain insight into animal behavior and movement patterns is also carried out in a large collaboration as part of a network, researchers and managers will be able to obtain much more knowledge from tracking. And this is the goal of the new international, EU funded project STRAITS, in which DTU Aqua participates:

“This is a major win for the monitoring of aquatic life in Europe," says Dr. Kim Birnie-Gauvin from the Technical University of Denmark, and one of the project partners, and elaborates:

“Identifying migration routes, estimating survival, locating spawning grounds, determining the timing major lifestage transitions, assessing threats – these are all questions we can begin to address, at the scope that is necessary to draw meaningful conclusions for the conservation of aquatic life."

New technology has made animal tracking over larger areas and longer periods possible

STRAITS – Strategic Infrastructure for improved animal Tracking in European Seas – is a four-year project that has received 3.5 million. Euros from Horizon Europe's Framework Programme, under the area "Developing the European Research Infrastructures landscape, sustaining global leadership".

In STRAITS, the major swimming routes in the sea from the four corners of Europe will be equipped with equipment to monitor the movements of marine life on a pan-European scale.

Although the tracking of animals is not new, it is only recently that technology has made it possible to track animals over larger areas and longer time perspectives.

More specifically, STRAITS aims to install acoustic telemetry arrays in four major swimming routes in Europe:

  • The Danish Strait in the Baltic Sea
  • The North Channel in the Celtic Sea
  • The Strait of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean
  • The Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles in the Black Sea (see the map at the top of the article)

Expand efforts to connect tracking initiatives from across Europe

The STRAITS partners will also make use of ongoing acoustic telemetry tracking projects and expand efforts to connect tracking initiatives from across Europe.

It will also develop data management plans and networks to promote synergy and provide data to national and international governing bodies. Everything will happen within the framework of the European Tracking Network – a Europe-wide network of tracking equipment, researchers and experience.

The STRAITS team consists of 10 world-leading organizations in the study of animal movements. Together they want to advance our understanding of the movements of marine life in Europe and abroad and thus change the way biodiversity is monitored in European waters. The hope is thereby to contribute to conservation and political initiatives.

PHOTO: the map is from the STRAITS project.