It is not clear if it was Charlemagne who said “let my armies be the rocks and the trees and the birds in the sky”, but Sean Connery, in his role as Henry in  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, said it was. The simple quote has, however, inspired many people to use whatever they can to achieve a goal.

For long, scientists have been tagging animals for scientific studies. In recent years, a researcher at France’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Oliver Bousquet, has been tagging sea turtles to study the oceans, with a view to getting supplementary data that is helpful in predicting cyclones.

Satellites and buoys largely broadcast surface data, but scientists such as Bousquet want to know if sub-sea activities, like currents and temperature, have any correlation with cyclones.

The area of interest is in water depths of 25-200 m, which is exactly where sea turtles roam.

Bousquet’s initial work has morphed into a larger project, with over 20 partners, called Sea Turtles for Ocean Research and Monitoring (STORM), which involves tagging more turtles. According to Smithsonian magazine, between January and March this year, the STORM project released 80 tagged turtles from ten spots around the southwest Indian ocean.

Bousquet, in a recent paper, notes that sea temperatures have a strong influence on climate dynamics and, hence, “observation of this parameter is fundamental to achieving realistic forecasts”. Sea surface temperatures, he says, is an essential parameter in meteorology and oceanography, especially in the tropical regions, being responsible for cyclones.

The project is still in the works, but the hope is that the tagged turtles will warn us sufficiently in time about an advancing menace from the skies. As the world becomes warmer and more storm-prone, mankind is turning for help to the very thing it mauled — Nature.

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