Spring 2005 eMOLT Update
Having evolved through various phases over the last 4-5 years, the eMOLT operation is settling into a routine that works for all those involved: the fishermen, administrators, students, and science partners. The primary function of eMOLT has been, and still is, to maintain bottom temperature records at fixed locations on the Northeast Continental Shelf (Figure 1). While reserve funds will supply us in standard temperature probes for 3-4 years into the future, we have been investigating other technologies for obtaining "realtime" bottom temperatures. In 2004, we were able to secure funding to the Advanced Design Consultants Inc of Lansing, NY to develop a probe that wirelessly sends data to the wheelhouse. While this unit failed in its first sea trial, we hope to see this technology work in the coming year. We have also experimented with units that telemeter data via satellite. We will keep you abreast of further development on both these fronts. In the meantime, we encourage our existing participants to keep their internally-recording probes in the water until the next downloading session later this year.
We have recently experimented with monitoring other aspects of the physical ecosystem. One project that has been particularly interesting and successful is the development of student-built, lobstermen-deployed, satellite-tracked drifters in an effort to document the flow of coastal currents in and around the Gulf of Maine (Figure 2). Having designed and tested these low-cost GPS drifters with Northeast Consortium funding in 2004, we subsequently received additional research funding in 2005 (from NOAA and the Woods Hole Center for Coastal Ocean and Human Health) to investigate the transport of harmful algal blooms along the coast of Maine and zooplankton into and around the Great South Channel. So, while our initial objective was to examine the movement of lobster larvae along the New England coast, we have been able to leverage our NEC experience to help other research parties in related studies. We hope to continue this collaboration with others and are currently in the process of seeking funding for 2006.