Seeing what the animals see with "Crittercams"

One inventor wanted to find out what animals do when they’re not being fed by, running away from or chasing humans..

Marshall took his initial ideas for ride-along observation technology to the National Geographic Society in 1987. Now he’s vice president of the society’s Remote Imaging division — an effort by a team of scientists and engineers working with researchers around the globe capturing footage of how animals behave in the wild, away from the interference of the observers.

“Crittercam enables us to get out of the picture entirely — to ride along, almost completely unobtrusively, to see their world and their behavior,” he says.

Marshall is a real-deal explorer, a tall, lanky, gregarious type who seems more suited to a dive boat in the Sea of Cortez or a snowmobile in Antarctica than an impressively equipped machine shop in the basement of the fabled headquarters of the National Geographic Society.

Marshall still gets more than his fair share of exploration — a day after this interview, he was off to Antarctica, again. But more often he’s back in Washington, at his desk or in an edit bay. Still, adventure is where you find it — and sometimes, it’s in the most unlikely of places.

How do you attach a Crittercam to a Great White shark? Very carefully.

Also: Crittercams stalk the wild housecat

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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