Revealing secrets about the way animals live
Smart Tag team track animals' Great Migrations
Professor Rory Wilson, Department of Biosciences (College of Science), was the lead consulting scientist for the National Geographic's groundbreaking series, Great Migrations.
This work was the most ambitious in the whole of National Geographic's 122 year history involving filming the migrations of species located on all continents.
The series was premiered at the beginning of November 2010 in 130 countries simultaneously and received widespread critical acclaim.
There are four core hours documenting the migrations of animals as diverse as butterflies and Sperm whales and three additional hours featuring behind the scenes filming, the science of migrations and images of the moving animals to music. Professor Wilson was involved in multiple pre-screening events including in Los Angeles, New York, Washington and Kenya.
Professor Wilson leads Swansea's Smart Tag research team. Their research has revealed some surprising secrets about the way animals including elephant seals, penguins, cormorants, whales, and sharks live. The team found, for example, that whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, save energy during swimming by diving and rising in the water column in a series of waves in much the same way as the many tiny song birds that grace our gardens.
They also documented how penguins use their natural buoyancy to shoot up from the depths to allow them to catch fast, elusive fish with little or no effort and the extraordinary graceful underwater ballet of the world’s deepest diving pinnipeds, elephant seals, otherwise best known for their bloody fights interspaced with lethargy on their breeding beaches.
Image: Copyright Rolex
Professor Rory P. Wilson
Professor Rory Wilson is currently Head of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES), a professor of Aquatic Biology and Postgraduate Research Admissions Tutor for Biosciences.
His specialist research subjects include: Foraging ecology, physiology and behaviour of a range of animal species (with particular emphasis on marine endotherms), via remote-sensing and data-logging technology
He was born in Northamptonshire, England and studied Zoology at Oxford University before moving to the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa to do his PhD, completed in 1985. He undertook post-doctoral work at Bamfield Marine Station, Canada and Gothenburg, Sweden, before working as a research scientist in the Institut fur Meereskunde, Kiel, Germany. He was awarded his chair by Swansea University in 2004.
Professor Wilson's research has been directed toward attempting to understand how warm-blooded, air-breathing animals, only secondarily adapted for an aquatic existence, manage to exploit the marine environment effectively.
Read more about Professor Wilson on the National Geographic's website.