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The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world.

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Crittercam – What You Always Wanted to Know

Posted June 17, 2009 12:01 AM by SavvyExacta

Most of us wonder what our pets are up to when they're home alone – some people even set up systems to keep an eye on them. What about wild animals? While there are some stationary cameras, like Africam, that stream video from locations in the wild, the idea of seeing the world from an animal's perspective is even more exciting.

What is Crittercam?

A National Geographic initiative, Crittercam is a camera worn safely by wildlife. The location of the camera on the animal depends on its body's shape and movement style. The camera has gone through several upgrades and is now less than three inches wide while capturing 3-D data.

The way Crittercam is attached to the animal depends on the species – there are several methods, including suction cup, harness, fin clamp, and safe adhesive. Sometimes the camera is manually removed from the animal when shooting is finished (friendly animals); other times, it is automatically released and tracked via a radio signal (sharks).

Crittercam has been worn by over 60 animals ranging from lions to sea lions. Sea turtles, sharks, whales, penguins, and bears are just some of the animals that data has been collected with. An exhibit is currently at the Boston Museum of Science where visitors can see some of the videos in observation tubes – as if experiencing the animals' lives for real.

Interactive Research Tool

Scientists wanted to know why penguins can stay submerged for half-an-hour and how they can dive more than 1,500 feet deeper than anyone thought was possible. Crittercams mounted on emperor penguins in Antarctica recorded:

  • Dives lasting 22 minutes
  • Depths of 1,800 feet
  • 40 times more barometric pressure at 1,200 feet than at the surface (fatal to humans if unprotected)

During the study, scientists discovered that the penguins had decreased heart rates during the dives. They also may cut off blood supplies to much of their bodies, except essential organs, thereby conserving oxygen and preventing nitrogen from entering the bloodstream. Learning more about this could help doctors treat people who are suffering from heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease, as both problems deal with low blood flow.

While this is just one example of how Crittercam has been used, National Geographic's site is full of more stories. You can even go on a mission yourself!

Resources:

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/crittercam/

http://www.huliq.com/13/81858/boston-museum-science-exhibits-geographic-crittercam

http://www.mos.org/exhibits_shows/current_exhibits&d=3136

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0130_040130_penguincam_2.html

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=65301

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Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
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#1

Re: Crittercam – What You Always Wanted to Know

06/17/2009 10:43 AM

Wow. First of all: *standing ovation* I really liked this article. Not only did you present interesting information, but that 'mission' link at the bottom provided a lot more insight and thought that goes into creating these webcams. Very good job.

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Guru
United States - Member - Lifelong New Yorker Popular Science - Biology - Animal Science Technical Fields - Technical Writing - Technical Writer

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: NY
Posts: 2409
Good Answers: 59
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Crittercam – What You Always Wanted to Know

06/17/2009 10:50 AM

Thanks for the feedback, Jaxy. I think this technology is really cool - but playing around with it yourself is even cooler!

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