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This article says that mounting sensors on animals is relatively cheap compared with the alternatives.

Seals, in other words, were filling in the blind spots on oceanographer’s maps. And they were doing it relatively cheaply—at least compared to the cost of ships or Argo floats, the international network of probes that transmit real-time measurements of the Earth’s oceans.

But how much cheaper?

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Each float costs around US$15,000 and communication, deployment and calibrations costs approximately double the through-life cost of each float.

(from http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Argoflyer_final.pdf)

One can roughly estimate from this source, given a life-span of four years, an Argo float costs slightly over \$3.5k/yr (float only) or \$7k/yr (including deployment and calibration etc.).

...by June 2007, over 95 percent of the goal of 3,000 floats had been deployed...

...With a four-year life span per float ...

...The annual cost of the worldwide Argo program is about $20 million...

(from http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/magazine/argo/welcome.html#float)

Based on this source all inclusive number will be in the ball park of slightly less than \$7k/yr.

So, without getting into details of whether one can be an alternative to another technically, a primitive cost comparison based on the yearly cost derived from the mentioned article and the links below it is ~7k\$/yr (including deployment and calibration etc.) or ~3.5k/yr (only the float) vs versus \$4k per tag with Tarpon fish. So if one can assume the deployment/retrieval/calibration costs are similar they will cost about the same by the end of first year. After one year the annual cost of a fish tag will keep getting cheaper and cheaper than a float until the end of its life-span.

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