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The Spotter buoy in Fiji is using new approaches to monitor surrounding coastal waters. It uses a combination of temperature and wave height monitoring sensors deployed on a moored buoy to provide high resolution ocean data for researchers, policy-makers, maritime commerce, and ocean-recreation enthusiasts.
For Fiji and other island nations in the region this data has very important local results. According to Fiji Meteorological Service Director, Ravind Kumar, “The new buoy is already providing us with vital wave information on the ocean state off the coast of Sigatoka. This will greatly improve Fiji’s...marine forecasting capability, and help us predict inundation events along the Coral Coast.”
This information is more broadly important as part of early warning systems and to further the understanding of how temperature changes will affect the local ecology. Members of the SPC (The Pacific Community--the principal scientific and technical organization in the Pacific region) are very eager for this new technology because it represents a shift in the trend of the data-starved region. The SPC Manager for Oceans and Coastal Geoscience, Jens Kruger explains, “Around the world there are more than 300 wave buoys, but fewer than 1% are located in Pacific Islands countries and territories. Now that this buoy is deployed, we’ve reached 1%. Pacific Islanders are custodians of 20% of global ocean space, but we know very little about our region…”
What makes Spotter different and essential is that weather and wave collecting sensors have traditionally been very expensive and difficult to both deploy and maintain. This next generation of buoys are smaller, less expensive, and dead simple to deploy.
Senior Oceanographer at the SPC, Herve Damlamian is hoping to take this experience and grow the project. He explains his approach, “Ideally you want a few strategically located in each country, particularly in areas that are vulnerable to large or complex waves. The offshore wave information collected would then improve confidence in local wave models...These buoys can also provide regional early warning benefits.”
Read more from the SPC’s website:
"...extremely pleased with its performance, capabilities and how user friendly it is. We have been using it quite often since it arrived, for cage maintenance inspections, seafloor bottom benthic monitoring, and recently we have used it to check on our mooring and anchor systems which are in deeper water than our divers are allowed to go."