A new, state of the art oceanographic monitoring station is now in place along Little Cayman’s north coast.
Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s next-generation ‘Coral Reef Early Warning System’ buoy tracks vital information that may further scientific understanding of factors impacting our coral reefs.
“Consider it as a fine-tuned canary in the coal mine,” said CCMI Director of Operations John Clamp.
He told Cayman 27 CCMI’s newest CREWS buoy is collecting information vital to the health of coral reefs.
“It’s going to give us information with respect to the health of the reefs, water quality issues, temperature, ocean acidification, and it also has an atmospheric package so we are looking at the atmospheric conditions as well,” explained Mr. Clamp.
30% smaller than its predecessor, Mr. Clamp says the new CREWS unit is easier to maintain and features some sophisticated technology upgrades.
“We will also be deploying ADCP which is an acoustic Doppler current profiler, so that actually lets us look at the movement of the water as well, so it’s a significant upgrade from the previous station,” he said.
Moored in 50 feet of water about a quarter mile from CCMI’s Little Cayman research station, the CREWS buoy will feed into a much larger network that includes monitoring stations around the world.
Previous CCMI CREWS buoys have monitored local conditions since 2009.
“If we have that historical context and we also have the context of the other stations, we can build up a very important picture,” said Mr. Clamp of the reaches of the global network. “That way managers and researchers in the marine environment at least can start to look at programs that might mitigate certain issues with respect to the current environment whether that’s global warming or sea level rise, or fish population, or the health of the reef. It’s a component that will add to that story.”
Near real-time data is available to the general public via the ‘LIVE Datacenter’ app, bringing the health of our reefs closer than ever to our fingertips.
“You will actually be able to dial up wind speed, the water direction, the current, the pH values by actually dialing into a link on your cell phone,” said Mr. Clamp.