Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP)
An Animal's Eye View of its Ecosystem
The Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) research project explores the Pacific Ocean, using a carefully selected group of animals to gather data about their world. As a pilot program of the Census of Marine Life projecta global effort to understand what lived, does live and will live in the world's oceansTOPP will offer an organism's view of the open ocean environment, vastly increasing our knowledge about a largely unexplored area of the planet, while gathering valuable data that will help policy makers and resource managers make wise decisions about ocean use.
Tagged leatherback returning to sea. (photo courtesy G. Shillinger, Stanford University)
Humboldt squid with pop-up satellite tag. (photo courtesy W. Gilly, Stanford University)
Why Do Scientists Tag These Animals?
Tagged animals can provide an "organism's eye view" of the marine environment they travel through and the areas they congregate in, so-called "ocean hot spots" or locations of high activity. By learning where these key locations are, and what oceanographic factors create them, scientists can begin to develop methods to manage the animal populations effectively, ensuring their recovery and long-term survival.
How Do TOPP Scientists Study the Pacific Ecosystem?
TOPP uses electronic sensor and satellite tags to gather data about the environment and to track individuals from apex predator species including:
Learn more in our Research and Conservation Report
- Marine mammals (whales and pinnipeds)
- Fishes (sharks, tuna, swordfish and ocean sunfish)
- Sea birds (albatrosses and shearwaters)
- Humboldt squid
- Turtles (leatherbacks and loggerheads)
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The TOPP project is managed through a partnership of four institutions, Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University; Long Marine Lab of the University of California, Santa Cruz; the Pacific Fisheries Environmental Lab of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association; and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
You can get much more information about the TOPP project, read their latest research news and look at live data of where the tagged animals are in real time on the TOPP web site (www.topp.org