First Posted: Aug 18, 2012 11:17 AM EDT


Professor Barbara Block, a marine scientist from Stanford University, recently launched robots off the coast of California that will collect data from predators, and "increase our capacity to observe our oceans," she expressed in a statement.

The data for the experiment comes from acoustic devices, previously tagged to predators. 

The animals' movements can be followed via a free app for smartphones and tablet devices. The self-propelled Wave Glider will relay a live feed of the migration of the animals to anybody with a smartphone app called Shark Net.

The bright yellow shark-tracking robot was designed by the Silicon Valley based company Liquid Robotics, and consists of two parts: a glider that descends 23ft (7m) down into the ocean, and a surfboard above.

The surfing robot picks up signals from tagged fish up to 1,000 feet away in the ocean and then transmits their positions to researchers via a satellite transmitter.

Block's project was inspired by a desire to study the great white sharks' "incredible homing ability" and to further understand the predator's behavior. The marine scientist needed a "mobile observatory" in order to accomplish this goal, which is where the mobile transmitter comes into play. 

Barbara reinforced the need to develop observatory technology further, saying "Across the planet the goal of oceanographers and biologists alike is to observe the ocean in as much detail as possible."

The wave glider project is part of the Census of Marine Life (COML) Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) initiative, which has 75 experts in five different countries, according to Parnell. 

Block noted that bringing awareness of the abundant marine wildlife off the West coast of North America is key to protecting it.

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