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Remora News & Events

Features

May 12, 2014


Tracking Currents with Drifters and Dye

Confirmation that conditions are safe to launch the Puma.

NOAA Corps Officers confirm with ship's crew that conditions are safe to launch the Puma; GRNMS R/V Joe Ferguson awaits in background as a support vessel.
Photo: NOAA

On Monday May 12, 2014, researchers and staff from Georgia Southern University and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary released 50 gallons of a non-toxic red dye (rhodamine WT) into the Altamaha River. The plume of dye that resulted was monitored visually, with support by volunteers from the GA chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and with instrumentation as the dye flowed from the release point along the Georgia coast and offshore. Tracking the path of the dye will provide estimates of the extent to which the Altamaha River delivers dissolved con-taminants, nutrients and freshwater along the Georgia coast and to hard-bottom reefs, such as Gray's Reef, found approximately 20 miles offshore.

Puma is launched from the deck of NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.

NOAA Corps Officer Mike Marino launches the Puma from the deck of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster.
Photo: NOAA

In addition to the dye release, the investigators deployed two GPS satellite-enabled current drifters that will provide information on how larger materials, such as dead stalks of marsh grass, may disperse after being transported from the Altamaha River estuary. You can follow the drifter's tracks on a Google map and find out where they go! Data obtained from the drifter paths are available to educators for use in the classroom. These student-drifters were constructed from basic materials found in local hardware stores and the GPS satellite transmitter tracking and mapping was coordinated through NOAA's NE Fisheries Science Center.

NOAA Corps Officers Fisher and Gothan pilot the Puma.

NOAA Corps Officers Fisher and Gothan pilot the Puma.
Photo: NOAA

Gray's Reef education staff will conduct drifter building work-shops for educators to develop current studies into classroom lesson plans and then participate in their drifters' deployment during future releases. To receive Gray's Reef education program announcements, including workshop opportunities, subscribe to our listserv.

For information about the NOAA UAS Program, click here or contact Gray's Reef Outreach and Communications Coordinator by email Amy Rath or (912)598-2397.


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