Rallying for Real-time Monitoring: "We Didn't Realize What We Had!"

In our January 26 Watermark post, we wrote about the collaboration between Beacon Institute/Clarkson engineers and Hudson River pilots to assure REON data will aid with the tricky navigation into the Port of Albany, where depth, tide and current are ever changing. Such real-time information at a navigator’s fingertips is a significant contribution to ship safety.

But real-time monitoring systems such as REON are not as commonplace as they should be. One reason is the expense of operation and maintenance. One floating monitoring station can cost between $200,000 – $300,000 from design to deployment. Operation and maintenance can add up to another third in costs.

When the federal government cut costs by decommissioning a long-time ocean monitoring buoy off the coast of North Carolina, mariners, fishermen and others suddenly realized what they had lost.

Though the buoy was designed and deployed for research purposes, the water community in Carteret County had become dependent on its real-time weather and water data. Said one mariner, “We didn’t realize what we had, what we were getting when it was out there. Now we do, and we need it back.”

Star News Online reported the story:

For nearly a decade, a 10-foot-tall buoy sat roughly 48 miles east of Wrightsville Beach in Onslow Bay. It provided real-time weather and wave data to mariners and meteorologists even as it provided more mundane information to researchers studying the offshore marine environment.

But the federally owned buoy was pulled in early January when funding for its upkeep dried up. Prior to that, the buoy had been managed by the Coastal Ocean Research and Monitoring Program (CORMP), which is based at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Now a group of concerned mariners and other stakeholders is hoping to raise enough money to get a replacement buoy – albeit a less capable one – back out there in the hopes that temporary fix could then lead to federal funding support for a buoy replacement plan.

For more on the Star News story follow this link.