By Sam Cavallaro
From May 14, 2018
This Monday morning, one group of USF students tagged along with the visiting personnel from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to deploy their NEXENS CBg-C Buoy near the Rachette Pointe dive site, just outside the SMMA (Soufriere Marine Management Association). Because the buoy is so heavy and too large to fit in the SMMA Marine Ranger boats, it had to be towed behind the boat. Once we reached Rachette Pointe, the buoy team divers (NOAA scientists and local rangers) and USF students descended to precisely 37 feet down where a metal bar had previously been installed to the ocean floor to secure the buoy. The buoy was carefully tied down to the bar using rope that had been spliced (weaving strands of rope together for reinforcement), just like what we had been taught by Ronald a few days earlier.
Not only was this a valuable learning experience for the USF students involved, but the information gathered by this buoy and others across the Caribbean is vital for measuring changes or patterns in climate and weather. Every 10 minutes, the buoy will send data on wind, precipitation, barometric pressure, and more to its data processing center in Miami, FL. All of this information sent by the buoy is readily available to the public. To access this information at any time or to learn more about additional NOAA projects taking place all over the world, visit the following link: http://www.coral.noaa.gov/data.html
The authors of this blog are students enrolled in Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation, field courses run in the Caribbean by the University of South Florida. During these courses, students learn scientific diving techniques over a 10-14 day period and carry out research and monitoring of coral reefs at various sites. Many of these courses are done in partnership with local environmental organizations, like the Union Island Environmental Alliance and the Soufriere Marine Management Association. In this blog, students will document their activities and how they relate to course material.