Coastal risk assessment in a coral reef lagoon

Griffith University leads research in the South Pacific Island in the scope of an Eco-based-Adaptation project. In the South Pacific Islands, wave data monitoring is rare and no permanent wave buoys have been deployed in Vanuatu. Wave data is important to calibrate hydrodynamics models.

Gaëlle Faivre, PhD student from Griffith University uses Spotter to better understand coastal processes in Erakor lagoon in Efate, Vanuatu for current and future coastal risk assessment.

In May 2019, Gaëlle Faivre with the help of the maritime office of Vanuatu and the University of South Pacific (USP) deployed Spotter for a month long period.

One part of her research is the study of waves transformation over the reef. The wave buoy has been deployed outside the reef and she has placed some pressure sensors over the reef crest and reef flat.

Another part is to better understand the circulation within the lagoon for water quality purposes.  She explains “The spotters are so convenient for my project due to their small size, compacity and portability (easy for transport on the plane), not too expensive and easy to deploy. The deployment of those will help us to better understand wave transformation and fill data gap in this area”.

Another thing she highlighted is the importance of the GPS on the buoy and the Dashboard providing access to real-time and historical data. “Even when the spotter is moored, the integrated GPS is very useful," she explained. “The dashboard was a plus during my deployment as I was able to keep an eye on it. The dashboard has even saved the spotter from the hands of the kidnappers”.

Coastal risk assessment in a coral reef lagoon
The original moored position in white, along with all the tracked positions

The last day of her deployment, she received updates for the position of the spotter. It was outside its geofence. Every half an hour, she was able to update the position of the buoy and tracked it. Spotter had been removed from its mooring.

With the help of the Science Programme Coordinator of the USP, Krishna Kotra, policemen and local residents, she followed the trajectory of the spotter, and when it was close to the coast they managed to call the resort in front of their stationary position to see if they could identify a boat. The resort was able to see a boat with three persons on board at the location the Spotter was supposed to be. She explains ”Sometimes, curiosity of people could disturb data collection particularly in remote places where the use of marine instruments are not-well-known. It is our job to warn the community but unfortunately, sometimes it is difficult to inform everyone”. This buoy hunting lasted for 8 hours. In the end, they got it back and the local's persons gave it back to them quite easily thanks to the policemen on board. Many persons were involved in the "buoy being rescued" and she explains, “I would not have been able to get it back without them and the GPS updates”.

Sofar Spotter back after a long day of tracking
Spotter back after a long day of tracking

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