Fish and Wildlife Research Institute



Efforts to build a network for Gulf of Mexico scientists tracking aquatic animals began at a 2014 workshop, where more than 50 scientists and vendors worked together to develop an Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (iTAG) network. The over-arching goal is to improve our understanding of animal migration and residency to assess stock resilience to spatially-explicit disturbances and provide important information needed for management. Shorter-term goals set at this first meeting were to: inventory existing telemetry investment in the Gulf, develop the means to exchange “orphan” detections (i.e., detections on receivers from fish other than the target species), continue to hold semi-annual meetings, finalize membership by-laws, and develop telemetry research at the large marine ecosystem scale to demonstrate the need and benefits of understanding how habitat context affects fish movements, as well as movements at this large spatial scale, especially between the Gulf and the Atlantic.

Since that first 2014 meeting, iTAG has held two additional meetings in October 2015 and May 2017 and has grown to 90 members who have a total of ~2,200 animals tagged with 1,118 receivers in 40 discrete receiver arrays throughout the Gulf (iTAG Receiver MapExternal Website). A comprehensive reportAdobe PDF from the 2017 iTAG conference details meeting accomplishments as well as objectives and goals for iTAG’s growth and development. iTAG is led by Dr. Sue Lowerre-Barbieri (FWRI/University of Florida) working with a steering committee made up of: Dr. Jay Rooker (Texas A&M, Galveston), Dr. Will Patterson (University of Florida), Dr. Behzad Mahmoudi (FWRI), and Dr. Clay Porch (NOAA/NMFS), working closely with Dr. Fred Whoriskey from the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN).  Dr. Lowerre-Barbieri is collaborating with Dr. Jay Rooker and Dr. Will Patterson on a study assessing red snapper movements and how they are affected by habitat context, made possible through OTN’s generous investment in acoustic receivers.

The mission of the iTAG community is to increase the capability in the Gulf of Mexico to assess movement and spatial ecology of aquatic animals through improved networking, increased infrastructure, and sharing of acoustic transmitter detection data. To facilitate meeting these goals, FWRI has developed an integrative map to show the location of arrays throughout the Gulf External Website and also an orphan data exchange so that data can be shared when a scientist’s animal is detected on another’s array.

The responsibilities and benefits of becoming an iTAG member are outlined in the iTAG membership agreementAdobe PDF. If you are a scientist using telemetry in the Gulf of Mexico and are interested in learning more or want to join the iTAG community, please email

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iTAG 2017 Meeting

Leaders in acoustic telemetry at the global, national, and regional scale were brought together at the 3rd iTAG meeting (May 24-25, 2017) at FWRI to discuss ways that iTAG can facilitate integrative tracking and its application to effective resource management in the Gulf of Mexico.

iTAG Receiver Map

Locations of iTAG members’ active telemetry research projects are displayed in the following map. Each research project is represented by a singular mark displayed as a fish graphic and is the average GPS of the receivers composing the array. Details of the project, including the number of receivers, species tagged, and lead scientist(s), are accessible by clicking on the fish graphics.

Orphan Tag Database

A benefit of iTAG membership is the use of the orphan tag database to search for tags on other members’ arrays as well as upload orphan tag detections from one’s own array(s).

iTAG 2015 Meeting

The 2nd annual iTAG meeting concluded on October 30, 2015 after two productive days of scientific talks and group discussion centric to building an effective telemetry network in the Gulf of Mexico.

FWC Facts:
The Gulf sturgeon spawns 140 miles upstream from the mouth of the Suwannee River, one of the last pristine rivers with no dams to bar its path.

Learn More at AskFWC