Boaters’ ability to monitor sea conditions in the northern Caribbean just became easier thanks to four state-of-the-art buoys newly placed off Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System (CariCOOS).
CariCOOS, which is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington, DC, is responsible for providing coastal boaters in the U.S. Caribbean with timely, state-of the-art, coastal marine information. The organization’s first coastal oceanographic buoy was deployed south of Caja de Muerto, Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 2009. The second buoy was set off the north coast of San Juan in 2010 and a third was installed in April seven nautical miles south of Rendezvous Bay, St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. These state-of-the-art buoys were designed and constructed by Dr. Neil Pettigrew and his physical oceanography group at the University of Maine. In addition, a sophisticated wave buoy was placed one nautical mile off Rincon, Puerto Rico, also in April.
Dr. Jorge Capella, the Aguadilla, Puerto Rico-based CariCOOS modeling coordinator, says, “These three buoys provide meteorological and oceanographic data such as winds, waves, currents (vertical profiles), atmospheric pressure, water temperature and salinity, on a near real-time basis. Interested users should access www.caricoos.org and select the desired buoy from the CariCOOS Buoys tab.”
CariCOOS is a stakeholder-based program and, as such, welcomes feedback from all users in order to maintain current buoys on a long-term basis and to justify the acquisition of additional buoys.
“Future ocean observing assets will be located where users express their greater need,” says Capella.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.