Pettigrew speaks with Mount Desert Islander about data-gathering buoys

Neal Pettigrew, a professor of oceanography at the University of Maine, was interviewed by Mount Desert Islander for an article about the current state of UMaine’s network of data-gathering buoys in the Gulf of Maine. Pettigrew is the director of the Gulf of Maine Ocean Observatory System, which designed and built the buoys and deployed them at 12 locations in 2001, according to the article. The number of locations is now down to seven. “At that time, they were state of the art, the best ocean observing buoys anywhere in the world,” Pettigrew said, adding they often are still considered the best, but technology has since improved, and funding for the project has become a challenge. Sensors attached to the buoys collect data about ocean temperatures, currents and salinity levels, as well as air temperature, wind speed and direction, and the height and frequency of waves, the article states. The data are continuously transmitted and posted online. “Lobstermen tell us the first thing they do every morning is get online and see what the conditions are out there, and then they decide whether or not it’s worth going out,” Pettigrew said. “They tell us they believe it saves lives.”