Southeastern Section - 61st Annual Meeting (1–2 April 2012)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


CALHOUN, David D., SHAW, Tim G., ROGERS, Jason and DEGAN, Jacqueline J., Marine Technology Department, Cape Fear Community College, 411 N. Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401,

The Marine Technology program at Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) provides hands-on skills for students to succeed in providing technical support for various industries, including: physical and chemical oceanography, biological studies, geological and geophysical technology and analysis, and hydrographic surveying. Cost effective drifter buoys deployed from CFCC’s R/V DAN MOORE have given students not only practical experience utilizing various construction methods, GPS equipment, data processing techniques, and GIS software training, but also an opportunity to analyze implications of data collected while contributing to the NOAA’s Drifter dataset. This study describes the construction, deployment and movement of four Rachel style Drifters off the east coast of the U.S. The Rachel Drifters are constructed out of PVC, fiberglass spars and have vinyl sails which allow them to track the top meter of the water column. A GPS transmitter is mounted on the top of the drifter and transmits the buoy’s position on a preset time interval. The positions are posted to a NOAA website which allows users to observe their tracks. This is a cost effective yet somewhat high tech way to monitor ocean currents. The Drifters deployed by CFCC Marine Technology students have traveled in long-shore currents, and the Gulf Stream. They have also been tracked in eddies meandering within the Gulf Stream that keep them circulating in the same area for several weeks. In total, these Drifters have traveled over 8000 kilometers, and reveal several practical applications for science and industry.