Ocean Hack: Innovations In Marine Technology And Monitoring

2019-08-28T17:26:49+00:00 September 18, 2017|

What It Was

The Senate Oceans Caucus and U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System Association hosted a briefing on Thursday to address advances in ocean observing and technology that are important to national security, the economy, and environmental health.

Why It Matters

The ocean plays a critical role in securing our food, economic, and national securities, as well as in ensuring human health. However, the ocean’s vastness makes it challenging to study. Technological advances solve this problem, improving the quantity and quality of data collected. Helping Congress understand scientific advances could facilitate future funding and inform government policies.

Key Points

Speakers discussed the future of ocean observations – automated and autonomous monitoring systems. Moderator Jon White (President and CEO, COL), pointed out that to sustain our coastlines and to remain competitive in the ocean field, more knowledge is needed, as is federal funding.

Mr. Mark Wiegardt (Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery) described how science and technology have helped his oyster business survive ocean acidification. Continuous monitoring equipment measures changes in ocean water, allowing it to be treated (based on oxygen and pH levels) before reaching the growing oysters – saving his business from acidifying water.

A triangulated buoy system under development could transform the safety and accuracy of docking large ships – ensuring 100 percent safety and reducing potential oil spills. This technology would provide a ship pilot, or “valet parker,” with precise information on the draft, pitch, and roll when a ship is coming into port.

The Navy owns four of the most sophisticated ocean gliders in the world that measure ocean parameters, such as temperature and salinity. Their unmanned capabilities allow five gliders to do the work that would take 50 years for manned Navy ships to do.

Cleveland Water Alliance and XPRIZE hold technology innovation competitions to solve real problems, encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and revolutionizing ways of solving aquatic problems. Cleveland Water Alliance is tackling Great Lakes issues with Erie Hack and Internet H2O, examining ways to sync collected data and to predict harmful algal blooms. XPRIZE highlighted a new concept called “marine bees” – small aquatic robots that could work together in a swarm and map our ocean floor by 2030 (a task that could otherwise take 600 years).


“If we are going to sustain our coasts and coastlines we need to know more about our ocean.” – Jon White (President and CEO, COL)

“Autonomous systems are going to change the way the Navy samples our oceans.” – Dr. William Burnett (Deputy Commander and Technical Director to the Commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command)

“Everyone is talking about smart cities, we want to have the first ‘smart lake.’” – Bryan Stubbs, Cleveland Water Alliance

“Essentially we help turn science fiction into reality.” – Dr. Jyotika Virmani, Senior Director, Prize Operations, XPRIZE

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