Bolles students launch surface drifter in Atlantic Ocean

By NewsLine Staff

Four junior marine science students at The Bolles School have launched a research project in the Atlantic Ocean that will transmit important science data about ocean current. Angel Fuentes, Libby Levin, Remy Frohman and Nadia Smith are students in the Marine Science class of Rad Murphy and volunteered to participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Integrated Ocean Observing System student drifters program.

The surface drifter, a six-foot high canvas and PVC structure, is part of a collaborative research project with Jacksonville University (JU). Bolles students constructed the drifter over a weekend in early March with Murphy’s oversight.

Murphy then went out on the OCEARCH ship in mid-March to deploy the Bolles drifter, along with three other projects from JU, about a mile east of the Mayport inlet.

A first “ping” from the drifter came in shortly after deployment. The drifter will continue to ping its location once a day for the next four to six months.

The Bolles community and others can monitor the Bolles’ drifter, currently floating in the waters about 12 miles off the St. Augustine coast, anytime through the following link:

Since its deployment, the Bolles drifter has traveled about 40 miles.

Murphy said he would expect the Gulf Stream to carry the Bolles and JU drifters north along the East Coast before turning toward Europe once they get closer to the Canadian border.

“However, the Gulf Stream is about 62 miles off the coast, so it is possible the drifter will initially head south if it is caught in our coastal counter-current,” Murphy said.

According to NOAA researchers, the drifters have proven to be a very successful educational tool in educational settings. During the past 10 years, more than 1,000 drifters have been built and deployed by approximately 50 different schools.

Bolles is the first Jacksonville area independent school to deploy a drifter through the program. The four Bolles students managing the project expect to create a blog to track and explain the movement of the drifter.

Photo courtesy The Bolles School

Junior marine science students Angel Fuentes, Libby Levin, Remy Frohman and Nadia Smith have launched a research project in the Atlantic Ocean that to learn about ocean current.