NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

At-Sea Detection: Two Weeks to Go

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Two weeks out, and most of the administrative requirements are out of the way–health services questionnaire, TB test, contact lists, conduct form, and so on. I learned a little more from Russell about what I’ll be doing.

The cruise will be doing oceanography (CTD casts, which measure the physical characteristics of seawater, Conductivity (=salinity), Temperature, and Depth) 24 hours a day on the way up to the Subtropical Convergence Zone. During daylight hours, we’ll be doing visual surveys using the Big Eyes binoculars, which are used to spot and get distance to marine debris and cetaceans. We’ll be entering the data, presumably connected to GPS, when we spot something.

Once we get to the STCZ, the unmanned aerial system (Malolo I) will be tested in autonomous flights (with coordinates entered in to tell it what route to fly), launched manually from the ship’s deck and retrieved from the water in a small boat (to land, it cuts its engine and deploys a little parachute). The UAS will be sending back video feed and capturing still photos when it detects an anomaly or when the ship sends it an instruction to do so. When it spots particularly juicy hunks of debris, we may steer the ship to the debris and either attempt to collect it or attach a tracking buoy to it. The guys from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center will be in the water and small boats.

In addition, Russell from the Monument has been asked by Discovery Channel Canada to shoot B-roll for a story they hope to do about ghost nets. (B-roll is extra footage without narration that’s intercut with the main story to give background, but the “B” doesn’t actually stand for background, I discovered.)

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

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