Friday, 24 September 2010

2010 Mooring Cruise

I'm sitting on the FRS Algoa in Cape Town Harbour, having enjoyed a braai on the trawl deck during Heritage Day! Tomorrow morning at around 9am, the ship will leave the harbour and make its way towards Mossel Bay.

On board will be several high school students from the Mossel Bay and several teachers, who will experience first hand a little of what life is like aboard a research vessel, and learn why we go to sea aboard in the first place. In Mossel Bay, we'll give some more students and teachers from George a chance to do the same thing, before the ship docks in Port Elizabeth.

From Port Elizabeth, the Algoa will travel northwards towards Toamasina in Madagascar. To the North of there lie a series of moorings which the ASCLME Project deployed in partnership with NOAA in 2008. These ATLAS mooring buoys need regular maintenance. Unfortunately, they lie in the "High Risk" Piracy zone of the Indian Ocean, so the Algoa will be escorted by a Seychelles Coast Guard vessel during that leg. If we can make updates whilst up that way, please note we won't be giving detailed activity notes as it represents a security risk to do so!

On the way to Toamasina, in partnership with Dutch researchers, we deploying some LOCO moorings, which measure ocean currents and have already helped us to understand the complex flow patterns in the Mozambique Channel; we'll be extending this array of moorings off southeastern Madagascar.

The students and teachers on board are taking part in NOAA's "Adopt a Drifter" Program, which pairs students from a school in the USA and a school overseas (South Africa in this case), who jointly "adopt" a satellite drifter, and use this as an opportunity to learn more about the oceans and how they function - using the same data scientists use, following their drifting buoy in near-real time as it journeys across the ocean. I'll be on hand to explain what the ship is used for, some of the instrumentation on board and why it's important to do this kind of research.

It looks like we'll be in for some rough weather...

I'll post another update tomorrow.

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