Autonomous sailboat deployed to find red tide bloom
December 26, 2017
An autonomous sailboat was launched from Algiers Beach to map and take measurements of where the red tide is located and what kind of environment it feeds off of to better understand the bloom that has been near Sanibel since Thanksgiving weekend.
Dr. Jordon Beckler, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium program manager of ocean technology research, Gabriel Rey, intern for Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and Navocean Owner and Chief Designer Scott Duncan.
Before the sailboat was launched Navocean Owner & Chief Designer Scott Duncan did some tests from his iPad to make sure everything was working correctly. A chart on his device showed where they were located near Algiers Beach, and the six locations the sailboat would cover.
“We can reprogram its course,” he said of the fourth generation prototype. “We hope it will go out for three to four days. We are building up to 30 days and 60 days.”
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Laboratory Director Eric Milbrandt said the neat thing is they can see everything in real time.
“You send out a ship, a ship costs $20,000 a day, whereas this is much lower cost. You can find the patches and study them a lot more readily. And matching up with the satellite imagery is really important as far as telling people where it is and what the probability that it will kill fish and have respiratory irritation,” Milbrandt said.
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