Drifter behavior experiments with Seakeepers and Fleet Miami

IMG_4360_2CARTHE teamed up with The International SeaKeepers Society and Fleet Miami in September 2014 and March/April 2015 for a total of 6 days of experiments contributing to CARTHE’s new drifter design.  The goal of this research is to test the behavior of our newest model of drifter against existing designs to ensure that the new drifter will provide accurate data once it is used in full scale experiments.

Each expedition involved three consecutive days of research offshore Miami onboard Fleet Miami’s 54-foot Grand Banks Eastbay M/Y Shredder.  This expedition involved testing various types of CARTHE drifters and their relative motion responding to wind, waves, and surface currents. The drifters varied in size, shape, and material – some even biodegradable.

Reference measurements were taken with an Acoustic Doppler Current Profile (ADCP) for surface water current velocity,IMG_4289

a Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) sensor for chemical and physical properties within the water column,IMG_4454

and an anemometer for wind measurements.IMG_4404

CARTHE also launched a blimp called an aerostat to photograph two-dimensional drift cards floating on the surface behind the vessel. Aerostat photography allows for precise observation of the drifters’ locations and movements, particularly when objects are close in proximity and cannot be effectively deciphered from one another using GPS.


IMG_4396Touri J. White, Project Director of IMPACT (Integrated Marine Program and Computer Training) from the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, joined the expedition to learn more about the drifter design experiment in hopes of creating a collaborative project with CARTHE and IMPACT students. We have enjoyed working with this great group of students in the past and are excited to have them take a more active role in our research.


Fleet Miami is a Florida based Yacht Membership Club known for its dedication to the superyacht fleet lifestyle experience. They have been generous to provide the 54-foot Grand Banks Eastbay Shredder for two CARTHE research expedition and outreach programs. M/Y Shredder and her crew adeptly played a key role in the expedition by providing the platform that made drifter deployment research possible. For more information visit http://www.fleetmiami.com/.

The International SeaKeepers Society is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization focusing on the health of the world’s oceans and climate. SeaKeepers works with the boating and yachting community to take advantage of their unique potential in order to further marine research and to raise awareness about the issues our oceans face. The International SeaKeepers Society acts as a global catalyst working with governments, scientists, industry, and other marine organizations to further its mission and to support sensible, achievable marine protection and restoration. For more information visit www.seakeepers.org 


This research is made possible by a grant from BP/Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and boat time from Seakeepers and Fleet Miami.