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OLI Grant: An Underwater Observatory in the Liquid Jungle

Grant Funded: 2005

Installation of an Ecosystem Observatory System at the Liquid Jungle Laboratory (EOSLJL) would provide unprecedented opportunities for scientists, educators, and students to study biological, chemical, and physical processes controlling community structure in tropical systems worldwide through tele-presence. An Ethernet-based distributed network consisting of both wireless and fiberoptic links would provide connectivity between habitats of the tree canopy, the jungle floor, and the mangrove swamps by collecting real time data on CO2, light, rainfall, nutrients and other important variables. The terrestrial observatory elements would be seamlessly coupled with a fiber-optic based underwater network to provide a visualization of processes controlling terrestrial runoff and transport of freshwater, particulates and nutrients, mixing of these materials into the upper mixed layer, sedimentation from the water column onto the seafloor, and the influence of these processes on primary and secondary production in the water column. The first phase of this multiphase project proposed here is to install a shore station at the WHOI building, an electro-optical cable on the seafloor out to Pacora Island, and a node with a basic suite of sensors including a CTD, fluorometer, pH and light sensors. The node will be set at about 30 m and allow 8 channels of Gigabit Ethernet, 8 channels of RS232 data, and 120 VAC and 12 VDC power allowing for considerable future expansion. A digital pan-and-tilt Internet camera near a coral head will provide continuous imaging of marine life in the area. Additional nodes in shallower and deeper water may also be added in the future. A web server and Graphical User Interface would provide world-wide access to raw and processed data.

Originally published: February 1, 2005