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8 animals helping humans save the planet

Nov. 18, 2011, 8:37 a.m.
sea lion with attached transmitter

Photo: Michael Weise/UC Santa Cruz

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Sea lions and seals

Scientists at the University of California-Santa Cruz have teamed up with some special “researchers”  to help them document ocean temperatures, salinity and other undersea conditions. With their unique diving abilities that allow them to swim where few humans have gone before, ocean mammals such as sea lions (pictured) are being outfitted with sensors that stick to their fur and later fall off when they molt. Information is transmitted to a satellite when the animals surface to breathe and is used to create computer models that will better predict ocean circulation patterns. Elsewhere, researchers are using sensor-wearing elephant seals to dive under the Antarctic ice in search of climate change evidence. Elephant seals are even helping track the size and health of U.S. salmon populations.