With the help of NEFSC port agent John Mahoney, Manning approached some local lobstermen in Sandwich and Hyannis, Mass. to see if they were interested in helping collect bottom environmental data, whenever their lobster pots were out. They agreed. The pilot project started with three lobstermen who each took the temperature-measuring devices and attached them via a plastic tie-wrap to one or two of their pots.
The devices, which cost about $150 each, internally record temperature every hour around the clock while the pots are in the water. At the end of the season when the pots are hauled out, the instruments are removed and shipped back to Manning in an envelope he provides. He downloads and processes the data and then puts the temperature information on the eMOLT web site. Each lobsterman has his/her own personal web page to see the data from their own pots, while everyone including the general public can see the overall data collected each year.
By 2000, results from the pilot study were encouraging enough for Manning to apply for funding from the Northeast Consortium to formally establish eMOLT. The Consortium has funded the project since. Each year, more lobstermen participate in the program and new instruments are tried, some with success and others that need further development.
One of the program's successes has been low-cost surface drifters equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) chips, developed by Manning and since 2004 built by students in the marine science program at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC). The students build about 50 drifters a year, each costing about one third that of commercially-made instruments.
"About half of the cost goes to pay the students to build the drifters, so it gives them practical working experience plus the knowledge they are participating in marine research, and the other half is used for parts and other related expenses," Manning said. The
|Contact: Shelley Dawicki|
NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service