Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) has 14 monitoring buoys around the harbor and the wider coastal area, measuring water clarity, currents, wave height, salinity, dissolved oxygen and temperature.
Dr Leonie Andersen from Vision Environment installed the buoys in September 2016 to provide baseline data on the harbor’s natural fluctuations before channel deepening/dredging begins this year.
The monitoring system will help Dr Andersen and other scientists understand more about the harbor’s natural variations.
“The system was commissioned so that LPC can manage its dredging in real time, but what we’re learning about the harbor is amazing for science. Prior to this, the harbor had only a few data points, but we’ve been gathering so much information on currents, water chemistry and sedimentation,” said Dr Andersen.
“These little buoys are just amazing,” she added. “Imagine someone trying to physically collect this amount of information. It would be impossible. And the times when we learn the most – like during a storm – it would be impossible to send people out onto the harbor.”
The data has also proven to be a resource for divers (who can check water clarity), surfers (who can check wave heights and direction) and also maybe for swimmers looking for balmy temps for a swim at Corsair Bay.
LPC Environment Manager Kim Kelleher hopes that giving the public access to the data will stimulate interest in the local marine environment.