Commonly asked questions about the FACT Network. Click on the question to get the answer.
So what’s the deal with the name FACT? You were originally the Florida Atlantic Coast Telemetry Network but now just refer to yourself as the FACT Network.
While some of our earliest tracking studies began on the Florida east coast, many species we study are highly migratory (including some we thought didn’t move so much) so coordination and data sharing with researchers over a wider region has become essential. Currently, the FACT Network includes members throughout Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina, the Bahamas, and Caribbean. All members are co-equals and many also partner with the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network to our north and the iTAG Network in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We’ve kept the acronym for consistently (and because it appeals to our scientific nature) but we may change our name in the future to better represent all our members.
What is the relationship between the FACT Network and SECOORA?
SECOORA is our regional arm of the Integrated Ocean Observation System (IOOS) and has a mandate to coordinate and disseminate marine data and forecasts for defense, commerce, and navigational purposes. While the FACT Network is an independent research group, our products can be valuable to SECOORA customers. As such, SECOORA has graciously offered to host and help develop the FACT Network website.
Why is acoustic telemetry the centerpiece technology of the FACT Network?
Our researchers often use more than one tagging technique for assessing animal behavior but acoustic telemetry has advantages over other methods. For example, it provides more movement detail than traditional external tags that rely on physical recapture of a marked animal. It also works much better in salt water than radio telemetry, and can be used on smaller species than bulky satellite transmitters. Its main limitation is that our transmitters must be in range of submerged acoustic receivers (listening stations) to be detected. This is why our efforts to use compatible equipment, coordinate receiver locations, and share animal detection data are so vital. By pooling our resources, we can answer bigger questions.
What is the difference between active and passive acoustic telemetry?
Active telemetry generally refers to the technique of continuously following a tagged animal through its environment, typically by a sleep-deprived researcher with a portable receiver in a boat. This approach provides highly detailed estimates of animal movement but for short (~1-3 day) periods. Passive (or autonomous) acoustic telemetry uses transmitters that ping less frequently but have a much longer battery life, and are detected by submerged stationary receivers. This strategy allows researchers to answer new questions regarding seasonal habitat preferences, coastal migrations, and survival. And sleep in a little longer.
What receiver brand is the FACT Network based on?
Our researchers primarily use Vemco acoustic receivers and transmitters.
Can your fish and sea turtles hear the transmitters?
Our transmitter frequency (typically 69 kHz) is well above the hearing range of most fish and sea turtle species – and humans as well. Transmitters can be heard by many marine mammals that are in the vicinity of a transmitter. But our tags briefly “ping” once every 2-3 minutes on average and there is no evidence they are detrimental to marine life.
How do I join the FACT Network?
The FACT Network has historically been welcoming of new researchers affiliated with universities, government agencies, and conservation groups. Due to the nature of our work, the FACT Network has become a tight knit community of trusted researchers. We welcome new members who would like to increase the duration and spatial scale of their acoustic telemetry study, who contribute to the group by sharing data, and are willing to follow norms outlined in the FACT Code of Conduct. Sound good? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get the conversation started.
How do I add my transmitter codes to the FACT Tag List?
If your animals might pass through the FACT Network, adding transmitter codes to our tag ID list may speed return of detection data to you. To add your codes to our list, email them to email@example.com.
How can I tell if FACT members are detecting animals we’ve tagged?
All FACT researchers know to compare unknown transmitter codes they detect against updated FACT Network and ACT Network tag code lists in order to contact a tag’s owner. If unsuccessful, we also contact Vemco directly who in turn contacts the tag owner. If these methods fail, FACT researchers can now post unknown codes and contact information on our “Mystery Tag” list found here.
What do I do if I harvest a fish with a transmitter inside it?
Surprise! Anglers occasionally discover acoustic transmitters inside fish they’ve harvested. If you find a transmitter lacking researcher contact information, email the manufacturer printed on the tag (for example firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide them with the ID code printed on the tag. The more information you can provide on the animal the better! We would love to hear where you caught it (don’t worry we won’t share your secret fishing spots), any measurements you took, and photos! The manufacturer should then reach out to the researcher. Transmitters are expensive enough that they are sometimes reused where possible, and many researchers offer rewards. Because extra tags gives us extra excuses to go fishing!