Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Wouter Deconinck

Committee Members

Kevin C. Weng

William E. Cooke

Gina L. Hoatson


Much about the movement and habits of marine animals is still unknown. This information can be found for terrestrial animals through direct observation or video surveillance; however, these optical methods are not effective in aquatic environments. To circumvent this problem, researchers “tag” aquatic animals with small sensor systems that record data about the animals movements. The researchers then recover the tag and use signal analysis to draw conclusions about the habits of the animal. Unfortunately, commercially available tags are expensive and most can only be used once. We created an inexpensive and reusable tag to be used on sandbar sharks held in captivity at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and VIMS Eastern Shore Lab (ESL). The tag consists of a three-axis accelerometer and a three-axis gyroscope for movement information as well as a real time clock (RTC) for timing. The data is written to microSD card. This is all run through a 3.3V Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller and powered by a lithium ion polymer (LiPo) battery. Initial prototypes were built using commercially available components connected through point-to-point wired connections. While creating the prototype, size, form factor, and power consumption were serious concerns. Once it was confirmed that these prototypes functioned as expected, we created custom printed circuit boards (PCBs) in order to condense the tag into a smaller package for deployment. Work then proceeded to refine and improve the PCBs both in terms of form factor and power efficiency.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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