Conceived in 2008 as a means of tracking coastal fish and sea turtles in east-central Florida, the FACT Network has expanded rapidly in geographic scope and membership, and now includes state and federal wildlife agencies, universities, and non-profit marine research organizations operating throughout east Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FACT partners have acoustic receivers deployed along a continuum of habitats including tidal rivers, estuaries, ocean inlets, the surf zone, as well as offshore coral reefs and wrecks. And the number of tagged animals continues to grow with > 3000 individuals from 60 species released to date.
The strength of the FACT Network is derived from the collaboration of our members. All FACT partners utilize compatible equipment and freely share animal detection data. As tagged fish and turtles disperse from a researcher’s core study area, they are often detected by our other researchers, allowing animal movement to be tracked over much greater distances, and for longer periods, than would otherwise be possible. And since many coastal species have proven highly migratory, we now coordinate with other regional acoustic telemetry arrays including the ACT Network in the US mid-Atlantic and iTAG group in the Gulf of Mexico. Without question, the FACT Network is enhancing collaboration in the marine science community to a degree not seen before and has spurred new regional-scale tracking projects that otherwise would never have been attempted.