I promise that I won’t write about Noise Reference Station deployments every time I post here, but getting a couple of these moorings into the water has been a significant part of my fall.
Typically the NRS moorings are designed to suspend acoustic recording equipment in the water column, held in place by a large steel anchor and extra strong marine cables. However, for this specific deployment we needed a different approach. This station, NRS09, is located in Stellwagen Bank, a marine sanctuary off the coast of Boston, MA and north of Cape Cod. Because of the geography and weather of the North Atlantic, the design of this mooring had to be substantial enough to resist the rough storms known to come through Stellwagen Bank.
I wasn’t responsible for engineering a structure that would protect our hydrophone for a year underwater, but we did have to figure out how we would get the 750 lbs and 39 sq. ft. structure off the shipping truck and into the ocean. Usually, the acoustic recorders we use to data collection are small, ~80 lbs Cornell Bioacoustics Research Program MARUs, and much more manageable for shipment and deployment…the giant NRS09 structure presented a new challenge and we planned every detail very carefully.
To my relief, NRS09 just barely fit on the back deck of the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary boat, the RV Auk. But our problem solving was not still not complete, we also had to figure out how to lower the structure to the ocean floor. Although our deployment site was fairly shallow, only about 65 meters, a normal quick release was not going to work this time. What if we could not get the catch to open? Instead, Dave Slocum (the Facilities and Vessel Operations Coordinator at the Sanctuary office) wired an electronic release that would open at the touch of a button.
We waited for a weather window and headed out to the far East side of Stellwagen. It was a very nice day on the water, we even saw a couple of humpback and fin whales on our way to the site. But of course, the best part is that the deployment went off without a hitch.
Luckily, we don’t need to worry about getting it back to Newport for a year…
*Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! Since this is a holiday weekend, I’m getting festive with a blog-post bonus link. Check out this cool (and a little weird) acoustics project. Is it art or science? Both? You decide.*