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R/V Weatherbird II Sets Sail to Deploy "Message in a Buoy"

Students from The Canterbury School of Florida joined USF's College of Marine Science and NOAA on an expedition aboard the research vessel to take part in ocean observation program.


By Katy Hennig
USF News

St. Petersburg, Fla. (Nov. 3, 2014
) - The R/V Weatherbird II left the docks at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science on Halloween morning with students from The Canterbury School of Florida set to deploy a Message in a Buoy, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Adopt a Drifter Education Program.

The R/V Weatherbird II crew escorted the class of 12 students, 2 teachers, a NOAA scientist, and USF College of Marine Science professor Ernst Peebles on an expedition out through Tampa Bay and to the Gulf of Mexico to deploy the buoys.

The day began with a thorough safety overview by the ships captain, Brendon “Boomer” Baumeister, giving the students a full lesson on how to work and stay safe aboard the research vessel.

The science students from Canterbury took in the sights of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay from aboard the R/V Weatherbird II, spotting several pods of dolphins swimming in the surf.

NOAA’s ADP coordinator, Diane Stanitski, led a drifter discussion and graphing exercise with the students as the R/V Weatherbird II passed underneath the Skyway Bridge.

Stanitski provided an in-depth overview of the drifter's role in global observations and providing information via satellite for tracking ocean circulation and ocean temperature. 

As the R/V Weatherbird II arrived to the launch destination in the Gulf of Mexico, students, teachers, and the crew prepared the drifters for deployment, including signing and attaching NOAA stickers, to each of the two buoys.

Ocean Bowl students participated in the drifter deployments and tossed the Message In a Buoy into the Gulf of Mexico.

A student from Canterbury called in to the NOAA Global Drifter Program Manager to report data about the launch of the drifting buoys including time, latitude, longitude, and other observations.

Canterbury science teacher Jenna Cummings leads students in oceanographic data collection from the deck, including temperature, salinity, and plankton tows which were conducted by the R/V Weatherbird II crew.


USF College of Marine Science professor, Dr. Ernst Peebles, works with the students and takes a look at samples collected during the plankton tows, under the microscope.

The scientific exploration and Message in a Buoy deployment was sponsored by NOAA, The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and Blue Ocean Film Festival, which was hosted in St. Petersburg throughout the week. 

The R/V Weatherbird II, which is located at the docks behind FIO and USF’s College of Marine Science, hosted tours of the ship throughout the week of the festival. For the schedule of Blue Ocean Film Festival Events and tour times click here.


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