The Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program explores the oceans from an animal's eye view. Electronic sensor and satellite tags gather data about a variety of ocean predators and displays it in Google Oceans, providing a powerful, intuitive system for accessing and exploring the world they live in.
By making this information available to scientists worldwide, TOPP vastly increases knowledge about a largely unexplored area of the planet. It also helps provide data that helps policy makers and resource managers make wise decisions about ocean use.
TOPP is an international, multidisciplinary collaboration among biologists, engineers, computer scientists and educators. Thanks to the Google interface, any site visitor can view and interact with animal tracking and oceanographic data.
TOPP tracks highly migratory species including sharks, tunas, seals, sea lions, seabirds and whales. TOPP is one of the original field research projects of the global Census of Marine Life, a 10-year initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution and abundance of life in the oceans. The TOPP program has successfully deployed more than 4,300 electronic tags on 23 different species of animals in the Pacific. These tags have recorded more than 265,000 days of data, helping scientists to see where the "ocean hot spots" are in the Pacific, and yielding new insights into the forces that shape them.
By learning where tuna and other species congregate, and what oceanographic factors affect them, scientists can begin to develop methods to manage the animal populations effectively, ensuring their recovery and long-term survival.