Your Questions for Crittercam’s Inventor

25 years ago Greg Marshall had an idea that revolutionized our ability to see the world through the eyes of other animals, and made videos like the one above possible. That idea became Crittercam. This Wednesday, you’ll get to ask him all about it. (Watch more Crittercam videos.)

What is Crittercam?
National Geographic’s Crittercam systems are research instruments worn by wild animals that allow scientists to collect video and sound recording as well as environmental data (such as depth, temperature, and acceleration readings).

Marine Crittercams are small streamlined water- and pressure-proof systems that include recording equipment. Terrestrial Crittercams—built to be worn by land animals—are collar-mounted and do not record. Rather, they use radio waves to transmit video, sound, and other data to receiving and recording stations.

Origin of Crittercam
In 1986 a shark approached Greg during a diving trip off Belize, then disappeared into the murk with three quick strokes of its tail. Greg noticed a remora (or sucker fish) clinging to the shark.

As Greg watched the shark disappear, it occurred to him that if he could put a camera in the place of the remora, he could see the shark’s behavior unfold without disturbing the shark. Some engineering, some biology, some trial and error, and Crittercam was born. (Learn more about Crittercam.)

Remote Imaging Today
More than two decades later Greg heads the innovative Remote Imaging Program at National Geographic. Collaborating with scientists worldwide, Greg and his team have deployed Crittercam on hundreds of animals to help investigate biological mysteries.

Each new assignment brings new challenges, and the team has devised ways to:

  • attach cameras to squid
  • suction-cup them to whales
  • hang them from the necks of elephants
  • drop them to the bottom of the ocean, and much more.

 

You Run the Interview

Now’s your chance to find out exactly what it’s like to work with animals and technology in such an up-close-and-personal way. Join Greg for an exclusive video interview Wednesday, September 28 at 4pm ET (9pm UTC) on the National Geographic Facebook page.

Post your questions there or in the comments section of this blog post. Then tune in tomorrow for the live interview, and post more questions as the conversation develops on Facebook!

 

In the Meantime…

Whet your appetite with two dozen Crittercam videos on land, sea, and in the treetops.

 

 

Wildlife

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.