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Remora News & Events

Tracking Currents with Drifters and Dye

Surface drifters deployed May 12, 2014.

Surface drifters released May 12, 2014 from Altamaha River, GA.
Click image for larger view.
Photo:Google

On Monday May 18, 2015, researchers from Georgia Southern University and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary plan to release 50 gallons of a non-toxic red dye (rhodamine WT) into the Altamaha River.

The resulting plume of dye will be monitored visually and with instrumentation as the dye flows 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 outflow delivers dissolved contaminants, nutrients and freshwater along the Georgia coast and to hard-bottom reefs such as Gray's Reef, found approximately 20 miles offshore.

Georgia Southern Universtiy professor Dr. Risa Cohen prepares to deploy surface drifter in released dye.

Georgia Southern Universtiy professor Dr. Risa Cohen prepares to deploy surface drifter in released dye, (see red dye background water).
Photo: Jody Patterson

In addition to the dye release, the investigators will deploy 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 with data available for use in the classroom or research projects. These student-drifters are constructed by participating educators from basic materials found in local hardware stores and the GPS satellite transmitter tracking and mapping was coordinated through NOAA's Fisheries Science Center.

Gray's Reef staff conduct drifter building workshops with educators to develop ocean current and watershed studies into classroom lesson plans. To receive Gray's Reef education program announcements, including workshop opportunities, subscribe to our listserv.

Plume of dye travels out to sea with currents.

Plume of dye travels out to sea with currents.
Photo: Jody Patterson


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