NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

At-Sea Detection: Another Day, Another Tracking Buoy Deployed

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Say, I just learned that you can follow us online at You just click to enter NOAA’s Ship Tracker, then select the ship SE (Oscar Elton Sette) and let it show “current cruise.” It’ll show you where we’ve been, where we are, and which way we’re headed. I wish I’d known about this from the beginning! Here’s an image from earlier today.

We were in for more crazy pitching seas overnight. We reached the northernmost point of our cruise, and the coldest temperature (10 degrees C, which is about 50F—plenty cold for locals). We stopped again for CTD casts four times today. There was a whole lotta nothing spotted by the observers for hours. Then Robyn spotted it—she was completely baffled by what she saw through the Big Eyes. “Is it two flags?” Sounded weird enough to investigate, so we asked the bridge to drive the ship closer to investigate. Still looked interesting, though we didn’t get very close for fear of fouling the ship’s screws on any line that might be attached to the flagged buoy. Here’s Doug getting the SAFE boat ready to launch. They use a winch to pick it up and drop it down into the water.

Kyle, Frank, and Lester went out and took what felt like forever to investigate and attach a tracking buoy to the buoy. It turned out to be an old and very heavily fouled buoy with a roughly 4-foot flagpole and two orange pennants on it. Not the enormous net bundle we’d hoped to tag, but definitely better than going home with all our trackers!

Robyn is now officially the Big Eyes rock star. She’s generally very modest about it but agreed to pose for the paparazzi just this once.

The weather improved by the hour today. By the last shift of the day, gloves were options. We’re looking for even milder weather tomorrow, perfect for Big Eyes, UAS flights, and small boat operations. Wish us luck!

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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