On March 4, 2012, Captain Roger Antonio navigated his 35-foot Force, China Girl, in waters off of Hawaii Island to deploy a new Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) Datawell Mark II Waverider Buoy. The bright yellow buoy is in waters over 340 meters deep about 6.5 nautical miles northeast of Hilo Harbor. PacIOOS is a program led by the University of Hawaii at Mānoas School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.
According to PacIOOS Director Chris Ostrander, the general location for the buoy was chosen for two main reasons. The first reason is to provide information to commercial and recreational boaters on the ocean conditions outside the breakwater to assist in their safe and efficient operation of vessels in the coastal and open ocean. The second is to provide real-time data on wave heights to assist the public, emergency responders, and county officials with preparing for and responding to big wave events that have been known to overtop and close coastal roads as well as impact coastal homes and businesses. The U.S. Coast Guard helped identify the specific location for the buoy in order to avoid ship traffic transiting to and from Hilo Harbor.
The buoy in Hilo joins the existing PacIOOS network of seven real-time wave buoys in Hawaiʻi, Guam, and the Marshall Islands to provide streaming data on wave height, direction, period, and water temperature to the PacIOOS Hawaii Data Explorer, the PacIOOS website, to the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and via Twitter @buoy51206. Data streaming is made possible through long-term partnerships between PacIOOS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and CDIP.
Jason Adolf, PhD, Assistant Professor of Marine Science at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH), is excited about the launch of the Hilo wave buoy. In addition to helping commercial traffic in Hilo Harbor, Dr. Adolf believes the buoy will be useful for fishermen, the many paddling clubs located at Hilo Bay Front beach, surfers interested in surfing Honolii and/or Bayfront, and educators that use Hilo Bay to teach shipboard classes, such at UHH Marine Science.
PacIOOS is the Pacific Islands regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The mission of PacIOOS is to provide timely, reliable, and accurate information on the open and coastal ocean waters of the Pacific Islands to ensure a healthy, clean, productive ocean and resilient coastal zone.
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