The first buoy of the Caribbean Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing System has been launched 1.6 miles south of the Puerto Rico coast. This is the first large instrument deployed on behalf of CaRA, the Caribbean Regional Association, in which the University of the Virgin Islands is a major partner with the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM). CaRA is organized under an agreement between UPRM as the senior partner and UVI. Others have joined the collaboration through a Memorandum of Agreement, signed in December 2007
The 7 foot tall floating package of instruments was outfitted with sensors to measure "just about everything you can measure in the ocean and the atmosphere", in the words of Dr. Neal Pettigrew of the University of Maine, who led a team of scientists that customized and assembled the buoy on behalf of UPRM.
The buoy was commissioned on June 8th with the smashing of a
bottle of champagne on its superstructure by the First Lady of
Puerto Rico, Lcda Lucé Vela in the Port of Ponce. The actual
deployment took place June 9th.
Señora Vela was joined in welcoming guests by the Mayor of Ponce, the Honorable Alcaldesa Maria Melendez Altieri. Guests included the Director of the Integrated Ocean Observing System office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Captain Zdenka Willis, and top officials of the US National Weather Service, the US Coast Guard, and the US Geological Survey. Also participating were officials from Puerto Rican government agencies, including resource managers, and representatives of the private sector. The event was planned by CaRA co-Principal Investigators, Julio Morell and Jorge Corredor. UVI was represented by another CaRA Co-PI, retired professor Roy Watlington, who delivered remarks on behalf of UVI President Dr. LaVerne Ragster.
"All that can be measured" includes air and water temperatures,
wind speed and direction, humidity, precipitation. Tethered in
about 50 feet of water, the buoy will be supplemented by an
acoustic profiler that provides current velocity and direction,
wave height and direction and hydrostatic pressure on the ocean
floor. Its measurements will be uplinked to satellite, downloaded
and processed. After being quality-controlled, data will be
available on the CarICOOS web site, http://caricoos.org/drupal.
At the moment all data products are presented as experimental products. Other buoys are planned, including one in Virgin Islands waters. Other instruments to be deployed soon include a network of weather stations around St. John ad St. Thomas commissioned by UVI.