Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

Joseph J. Torres, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Mann, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Luther, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andres Cardenas-Valencia, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Edward VanVleet, Ph.D.


Conductivity, Data Storage Tags, Depth, Marine Predators, Salinity, Temperature


Biologging tools for investigating the study of fine-scale linkages between animal behavior and the physical microstructure of the marine habitat are technically limited by substantial size, high cost or low sensor resolution. However, recent advances in electronic technologies and process techniques present attractive alternatives to current tag designs. Motivated by the need for a low-cost, compact CTD biotag for medium-sized marine animals, the University of South Florida Center for Ocean Technology developed a multi-sensor biotag for quantitative measurements of ocean salinity. This dissertation describes the development and performance of a novel CTD biotag used for animal-borne measurements of the physical microstructure of marine ecosystems.

Printed circuit board processes were used to fabricate a liquid crystal polymer- based conductivity, temperature and depth sensor board. Tests performed in the laboratory exhibited good sensor repeatability between the measured and the predicted variables indicating that the initial design and fabrication process is suitable for the construction of a CTD sensor board. The conductivity cells showed good sensor integrity for the entire conductivity range (0- 70 mS/cm), thus demonstrating the potential for a highly resolved salinity system.

The CTD sensor board was integrated into two initial multi-sensor biologging systems that consisted of reconfigurable modular circuit boards. The design and initial performance of a 4-electrode conductivity cell circuit was discussed and preliminary tests showed a sensor accuracy of 0.0161 mS/cm. A potential packaging material was analyzed for use on the temperature and pressure sensors and initial tests showed good sensor sensitivities (-2.294 °C/kohms and 1.9192 mV/dbar, respectively).

Underwater packaging of the biotag was presented in this work along with three different field observations. Vertical profiles of conductivity, temperature and depth in the Gulf of Mexico were obtained and compared to a commercial instrument. On the West Florida shelf, conductivity, temperature, depth and salinity data were obtained from loggerhead turtle deployments. Data collected showed that the tagged turtle encountered a highly variable salinity range (30.6- 35.3) while at depth (20 m). This data trend captured was in agreement with shelf characteristics (tidal fluxes and water mass features) and moored instruments. Finally, observations that were undertaken in Bayboro Harbor showed no biofouling to the conductivity electrodes during a 14 day deployment. This biotag is the first to use a PCB-based low-cost CTD to collect animal-borne salinity measurements.