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Remora News & Events

Tracking Currents with Drifters and Dye

Surface drifters deployed September 1, 2015.

Surface drifters released September 1, 2015 from Altamaha River, GA.
Click image for current drifter location.
Photo:Google

On Tuesday, September 1, 2015 researchers 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 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 16 miles offshore.

Drifter building workshop participants, release a drifter.

A high school intern and a University professor, both workshop participants, release the drifter in the Altamaha River sound.
Photo: Gray's Reef

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.


Drifter building workshop participants, May 2015.

Representatives from University, K12 formal education and informal education participated in the drifter-building workshop May 2015.
Photo: Gray's Reef

Georgia Southern University and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary staff conduct drifter building workshops with educators to develop ocean current and watershed studies into classroom lesson plans.

This year Georgia Southern University plans to develop a
How To Build Ocean Drifters Guide along with an instructional video for duplication of the drifter study.

For more information, contact Gray's Reef Event Coordinator Jody Patterson at 912-598-2431.

Plume of dye travels out to sea with currents.

Plume of dye travels out to sea with currents.
Photo: Gray's Reef


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