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Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) Program

An International
Research Initiative

Relatively little is known about the movements of marine animals as they migrate through the ocean and, in the case of salmon, the coastal rivers where they were born. An international research initiative called the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) program offers the opportunity to make breakthroughs in our understanding of how marine animals use the ocean. POST strives to help scientists answer questions about where animals go, how they use the structure of the ocean environment to accomplish their migrations and what they experience when they reach their destinations.
Learn more about POST

Tracking POST diagram

Tracking Marine Life

POST is an international non-profit organization hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium and governed by a 13-member Management Board. In 2010, POST split its focus between maintaining the array, providing tracking data to researchers and finalizing all of its contributions to the conclusion of the Census of Marine Life. The hugely successful 10-year Census inspired the production of novel resources, including a brand new online mapping tool and public POST database. It also resulted in the program's own special collection through an open-access journal and interactive exhibit in the public galleries of the Vancouver Aquarium.

Using Data To Understand

POST maintains a broad-scale array of more than 400 acoustic receivers, or hydrophones, that "curtain off" segments of the coast in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Over 3,000 km of the Pacific coast of North America is "wired up" with POST lines of acoustic receivers, giving us accomplishments and discoveries such as:

  • For the first time, juvenile salmon were tracked from the Columbia River's headwaters to the seas off Southeast Alaska, a journey of about 2,500km taking over three months.
  • Unknown before POST, threatened green sturgeon from the Sacramento River, California were discovered regularly migrating to central British Columbia and as far as Alaska.
Receivers Credit: Kintama Research Services

The Benefits Of POST

The Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking program:

  • Informs sustainable fisheries management decisions through accurate tracking of animal movements
  • Contributes valuable information to conservation efforts for Species at Risk Act- and Endangered Species Act-listed animals
  • Provides free and publicity accessible data and analytical tools, fostering collaboration and discovery
  • Adds biological data to platforms like the Global Ocean Observing System's network of observatories

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