We never tire of finding innovative solutions for new challenges. When Northwest Marine Technology, a Washington-based company that specializes in implant tags for aquatic species, came to Cole looking to develop a tag to identify fish, we took the bait. NWT research biologist Geraldine Vander Haegan, had the following requirements:
“This unique tag would be injected into a fish, but could be seen through the fish’s skin. The tag had to be tiny (just 1 millimeter wide by 2 millimeters long) with even smaller printing. The printing had to be sharp and exactly centered on the tag. The tags had to be precisely sized to fit in the injection needle, fully waterproof, and fluorescent to make them easier to find and read.”
NMT had approached several companies who couldn’t meet the requirements before they found us.
Creating fish tags was unlike anything the Cole Graphic Solutions team had tried before. We had to test many different materials and processes to create a product within the precise, tight tolerances required.
In the end, our team was able to create VI Alpha Fish Tags that could be placed just behind the eyes of Rainbow Trout using a flat needle. The tag slides into a needle and is then snapped off for injection. The tags do not harm the fish, and they can be seen through their clear tissue.
Each fish tag measures 1 mm wide by 2 mm long, and they are printed with an alphanumeric code. The tags are printed on four fluorescent colors, which glow under certain lighting.
By taking the time to work with Northwest Marine Technology to thoroughly understand the project, we were able to produce these tiny fish tags and make our partnership a success!