From Fishingwire. com, January 16, 2020
As part of an ongoing collaborative research project, scientists have been tracking the movements of smalltooth sawfish using passive acoustic telemetry. As the name may suggest, instead of actively following a sawfish around, data are collected using stationary receivers whenever the sawfish swims by. This technique allows for less labor-intensive and more long-term tracking, but the trade-off is that scientists don’t know if a sawfish has passed a station until the receiver has been recovered and downloaded. This makes downloading receivers a highly anticipated event.
In October 2019, Tonya Wiley (Havenworth Coastal Conservation) and Dr. Jayne Gardiner (New College of Florida) spent several days in the field downloading their receivers in the greater Tampa Bay area for their projects studying sawfish and sharks, respectively. The grueling work was made worth it when a sawfish detection was recovered on one of the sawfish project receivers in lower Tampa Bay. The excitement was quickly dampened, however, by the fact that it was only a single detection. Scientists are typically wary of single detections as they could be erroneous and due to mechanical error in the receiver, not from the presence of a tagged animal. However, a detection of a sawfish in Tampa Bay is not outside the realm of possibilities. To determine whether this detection should be considered valid or erroneous, we had to examine what we know about sawfish in Tampa Bay as well as what we know about this tagged sawfish in particular.
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