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Underwater Science Platform Coming to NY Harbor

By admin
November 23, 2013

BOP and Harbor School have recently begun a multi-year partnership with YSI Inc and Wild Goose Imaging to establish the region’s first marine science monitoring platform. The project is funded by the Verizon Innovation Center and Powerful Answers Campaign. We are expecting to start the first phase of underwater construction in April 2014. Meanwhile, Verizon has put together some outstanding promotional materials including this web video filmed on site at Harbor School….

Background on the Project:

The BOP/Reef Restoration Science Platform is a tool for improving how we monitor our habitat restoration projects and for bolstering our students’ engagement with high level marine science and technology. The project is sponsored by Verizon Powerful Answers and came about over the past six months of discussions with Harbor School CTE teachers. The platform consists of three separate instruments: a water quality sonde that measures DO, pH, salinity, chlorophyll/blue-0green algae, temperature, conductivity at 15-minute intervals; a multi-cell current profiler that measures current velocity and direction at various levels in the water column, and a live streaming HD video camera with pan/tilt/zoom controls and full spectrum lighting will see everything there is to see in and above the muck. These three instruments together are attached to a 1200 lb concrete slab which SCUBA and vessel ops will lower into the water off the Privateer’s crane hopefully sometime before the dead of winter sets in. The platform will then be cabled to the shore and powered by 240 watt solar and connected to the internet via wifi and 4GLTE.

Once the system is operational and collecting baseline data (by May 2014) we’ll start building out oyster habitat and other experimental treatments around the platform. The will give us the capacity to monitor before/after and treatment/control changes in water quality, biodiversity, and current attenuation potentially correlating these changes to our restoration efforts. All of this will require regular maintenance, in-situ monitoring, and recalibration of sondes which Harbor School’s SCUBA and Marine Biology Research programs will do jointly.The platform will also include an interactive website that explains the components, visualizes the data and allows users to drive the camera, create experiments, and analyze results.

None of this would be possible without help from our friends at Teens4Oceans, the scuba diving underwater video experts from Colorado. This week the T4O team flew in from Colorado along with YSI and Wild Goose Imaging engineers to help us start building the upland portions of the monitoring systems. Over the course of three very full days we built two 1200 lb. rebar and chain reenforced concrete footings – one for the underwater platform and one for the shoreline solar power station – as well as the 10 ft tall steel “tower of power” fitted with two 120-watt PV panels and data acquisition containers. We are now in the process of testing the camera unit and setting up the data transmission system from the Buttermilk shoreline to the MAST Center. If all goes according to plan (pending permit applications) we’ll begin the underwater construction work in April of 2014.