Ocean Heat Content Reveals Secrets of Fish Migrations. Academic Article uri icon


  • For centuries, the mechanisms surrounding spatially complex animal migrations have intrigued scientists and the public. We present a new methodology using ocean heat content (OHC), a habitat metric that is normally a fundamental part of hurricane intensity forecasting, to estimate movements and migration of satellite-tagged marine fishes. Previous satellite-tagging research of fishes using archival depth, temperature and light data for geolocations have been too coarse to resolve detailed ocean habitat utilization. We combined tag data with OHC estimated from ocean circulation and transport models in an optimization framework that substantially improved geolocation accuracy over SST-based tracks. The OHC-based movement track provided the first quantitative evidence that many of the tagged highly migratory fishes displayed affinities for ocean fronts and eddies. The OHC method provides a new quantitative tool for studying dynamic use of ocean habitats, migration processes and responses to environmental changes by fishes, and further, improves ocean animal tracking and extends satellite-based animal tracking data for other potential physical, ecological, and fisheries applications.

published proceedings

  • PLoS One

altmetric score

  • 60.58

author list (cited authors)

  • Luo, J., Ault, J. S., Shay, L. K., Hoolihan, J. P., Prince, E. D., Brown, C. A., & Rooker, J. R.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Luo, Jiangang||Ault, Jerald S||Shay, Lynn K||Hoolihan, John P||Prince, Eric D||Brown, Craig A||Rooker, Jay R

editor list (cited editors)

  • Klimley, A. P.

publication date

  • October 2015