Four of the 2013 Whooping cranes were fitted with Platform Terminal Transmitters (PTT’s) during their post arrival healthcheck at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in January. The four wearing the devices are nos. 1-13, 2-13, 8-13 (all females) and number 9-13.
Basically, the way information is gathered is each of the PTT units is programmed to send signals to a passing Argos satellite at periodic intervals. (If you’re interested in seeing where the satellite is currently click HERE)
The polar orbiting Argos satellite passes at an orbit of 850 km above the earth picks up the signals and store them on-board and relay them in real-time back to earth, where receiving stations relay data from satellites to processing centers.
Over 40 antennas located at all points of the globe collect the data from satellites. Data are either received in real-time by a regional antenna in the satellites’ path or stored on-board and relayed to the nearest global antennas.
There are two global Argos processing centers, one located just outside of Toulouse in Southwestern France, and the other near Washington, DC. Once the data arrive at a processing center, locations are automatically calculated and information made available to users/subscribers.
Based on information received since the young cranes left St. Marks on March 31st, we know they have traveled approximately 470 miles in just 3 days. We also know, by plotting their roost locations that they seem to be traveling parallel to the route our pilots led them along last fall.
As of yesterday, April 3rd, they had made it to northern Kentucky. Data received for all four transmitters means that at the very least, these four birds are still traveling together. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if the remaining four cranes are also with this group.
Here’s a Google Earth map grab showing our southward stopovers (red place markers) and the yellow pushpins are the roost locations used by the cranes wearing PTT devices on each day of their unassisted northward flight.
They appear to be making GREAT progress! Why not Give A WHOOP! to celebrate?