Compatibility in acoustic telemetry

Why do we need the ability to collaborate across manufacturers?

  • Drives innovation as more suppliers can contribute
  • Boosts the availability of new solutions for research
  • Access to data from migrations across all receiver owners
  • Opens up for healthy and fair competition
  • Enables effective research cooperation with worldwide networks
  • Open and available for all interested manufacturers

The table below was created by the European Tracking Network to keep an overview of the compatibility across manufacturers. Visit for more information.

Figure created by European Tracking Network

The creation of Open Protocol

At the end of 2019, during the International Conference on Fish Telemetry in Arendal Norway, a set of open, acoustic transmit protocols (OP) was officially announced and handed over to the research community.

As an answer to the request from The European Tracking Network, Thelma Biotel, together with the companies Sonotronics and Lotek, developed robust and energy efficient transmit protocols for Open protocol used in the aquatic research community. The two versions of the open protocol coding are named OPi and OPs, for ID and sensor tags, respectively.

The OPi protocol supports over 1 million unique IDs, and OPs support over 65 000 unique IDs. As previous sensor data carrying protocols often have been limited to 256 points resolution, OPs support a resolution of 4096 steps resolution.  

Why is Open Protocol important?

The main idea behind OP is to develop protocols that will be available for all interested manufacturers and compatible with the most common existing and new equipment.

This allows for the creation of networks all over the world, where transmitters and receivers from separate manufacturers can work together in order to obtain the best and most relevant data. Open protocols encourage healthy and fair competition, and flexibility in choosing the best equipment, service and prices. Opening the infrastructure networks of acoustical telemetry to all manufacturers of different types of sensors and transmitters – drives innovation and boosts the availability of new solutions for future research. 

With an increase in tagging projects and the continuous deployment of thousands of acoustic receivers all over Europe and the world, OP has been developed with this in mind. Both protocols are short and effective in reducing the issues of transmit collisions as well as the unique ID allocation is protected by 3rd party ID management and allocation under ETN and OTN.  

Projects concerning long-term research on large and wide-ranging species are particularly important when discussing open protocols and compatibility in equipment. Users of systems with different compatibility could possibly not detect signals from species passing through with valuable data. 

Example study species: Where Open Protocol play a vital role

Many different aquatic species have been, are, and will be studied using acoustic telemetry. Because of the migratory nature of some of these species, the collaboration between manufacturers and scientists across the world is essential in uncovering important research regarding these species.

One of these species is the emblematic Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) which exhibits large migration patterns. Sharing infrastructure and cross-country collaborations is essential in order to fully understand the migration patterns, environmental effects, stock mixing and species distribution of the Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Another species worth mentioning is the culturally and economically important species Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The long-distance migrations that the Atlantic salmon undergo between freshwater and ocean habitats make them extremely vulnerable to anthropogenic threats, and many rivers across their native habitats have already lost their salmon populations completely. To avoid the further loss of the Atlantic salmon, characterizing movement and behaviour using telemetry under cross-nation collaboration, joint research efforts and sharing infrastructure and data is necessary.