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CCE-1 Moored Buoy Rescued Days After Breaking From Anchor
Jessica Mkitarian

CCE-1 Moored Buoy Rescued Days After Breaking From Anchor

On June 6, it was discovered that the GOMO and OAP co-funded California Current Ecosystem (CCE-1) surface mooring broke away from its anchor. This mooring is typically recovered and redeployed annually, but due to COVID-19 setbacks, it had exceeded its one year station. The mooring is normally located in the core of the California Current about 200 km (110 nautical miles) offshore of Pt. Conception in a water depth of 4,000 meters. Since breaking from its anchor, the mooring drifted approximately 70 nautical miles to the south and 260 nautical miles offshore of San Diego. Working swiftly, Dr. Uwe Send and his team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography chartered the M/V Merlin (home port, San Diego) to mount a rescue mission to retrieve the buoy. By June 11, the buoy was safely onboard the ship and on the morning of June 12, the buoy and associated instrumentation were safely back in San Diego. This is a significant achievement, even for non-COVID-19 times. For other mooring breakages, it can take months before a drifting buoy can be recovered. 

Dr. Uwe Send and his team at Scripps have operated this mooring since deployment in fall 2008. Since that time, the mooring has hosted a number of instruments measuring both atmospheric and oceanic variables throughout the water column; in particular, measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), wind, temperature, humidity, precipitation, irradiance in the atmosphere and temperature, salinity, surface seawater pCO2, dissolved oxygen, pH, currents, point and integrated measures of phytoplankton chlorophyll content over the euphotic zone, and nitrate supply in the ocean below. Some of these sensors are contributed by NOAA’s PMEL Carbon Program providing critical observations in support of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Observing Network (NOA-ON). In addition, the buoy hosts instrumentation for active-acoustic observations of zooplankton and fish biomass from the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. The measurements contribute and work in partnership with other long-term studies in the region, namely the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), the California Current Ecosystem Long-Term Ecological Research (CCE-LTER) program, the California Underwater Glider Network, and SCCOOS. We are sincerely grateful to the flexible and professional operators and crew of M/V Merlin and Dr. Send and his team for a remarkably successful mission.

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