Biscayne Bay Drift Card Study
Understanding our local ocean currents and how trash and other pollutants are transported
Marine debris, oil, sediment, larval fish, and even boaters are transported by the currents that move into and within Biscayne Bay. Computer models and previous localized experiments give an estimate of how those currents behave but we wish to add new observational data to the existing models in order to give the greater Miami area a better sense of how the currents are effecting the way particles move in Biscayne Bay.Have you seen our drift cards?
Scientists rely on the public to find the drift cards along the beaches, shore or floating in Biscayne Bay. If you find one, please follow the instructions on the card and report your discovery! We need the date, time, and location (and photo if possible) of where the card was found.
The original idea for this project arose when Vizcaya Museum and Gardens approached researchers at the University of Miami-based ocean currents consortium, CARTHE (Consortium forAdvanced Research on Transport ofHydrocarbon in the Environment) to discuss the large amount of debris they regularly find in their mangroves and along their shore line. Where is the trash coming from? CARTHE could not provide a specific answer, so we partnered with Vizcaya and Frost Science to develop the Biscayne Bay Drift Card Study.
While in the planning stages for this project, South Florida was dealing with a tritium leak from the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, a waste water leak from an old pipe near downtown Miami directly into our study area, as well as an enormous blue-green algae bloom prompting Governor Scott to declare a state of emergency for Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Lee Counties. A better understanding of the currents in these areas can assist decision makers and managers in addressing their response to such events.
From September 2016 to June 2017, the Project Team will coordinate quarterly deployments of drift cards and GPS-equipped drifters with scientists, students, families and members of our local community in 8 locations across northern Biscayne Bay (near downtown Miami). As a result of the currents, drift cards might be found anywhere along Miami-Dade county coastline and beyond!
Drift cards are small, eco-friendly wood cards that are brightly painted and float along the water’s surface, moved by the currents. Each card is coded so the Project Team can identify where it was deployed. Additionally, the drift cards are labeled with information that introduces the project and instructs the finder how to report where it was found. By tracking the location where drift cards are released and found, we will learn how the currents distribute debris in Biscayne Bay.
All of the information about where and when drift cards are deployed and recovered will be used to develop a model generated by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science that will help the partners and the Miami community better understand how debris moves with the current, which will help us develop solutions to decrease the trash and debris in Biscayne Bay and along our shoreline. Once the models have been developed, we will share them with the public through programs sponsored by the partners and project team to better sustain our shorelines.
Additionally, the CARTHE biodegradable, GPS-equipped drifters provide precise tracks, every 5 minutes, as they float along with the currents. Below is the animated tracks of the 20 drifters released on September 7 and 12, 2016.
Of the 320 drift cards released on September 12, 2016, 37 have been recovered and reported via #BayDrift or BayDriftMiami@gmail.com. Click on the images below to see where the drift cards and drifters have gone. (Colored square indicates the launch location, Dots represent drift card recovery site, lines are the tracks of the GPS drifters)
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Frost Science Museum
Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation-Piano Slam
Miami Science Barge
Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves
Miami Country Day School
Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church School
Play & Learn Preschool
Miami Springs Middle School
Miami Northwestern Sr High School
Leisure City K-8 Center
Lamar Curry Middle School
Mater Grove Academy
If you have any questions or if you’d like to get involved, please email BayDriftMiami@gmail.com.
Bay Drift Lesson Plan
An activity for middle or high school students on ocean currents, marine debris, and citizen science. Click here to download.
Operation Coral Cascade
CARTHE provided scientific support for an environmental safety exercise executed by the University of Miami Department of Emergency Management on December 3, 2015. 35 local, state, federal agencies, private industry, and higher education collaborated on this well organized test. Our biodegradable, GPS-equipped drifters were released at the time of the exercise and provided data for 11 days. Some went east into the Gulf Stream, while others gradually drifted south through Biscayne Bay. For more information, please visit our blog: carthe.org/blog/?p=435