Buoy was to monitor harmful algae blooms.
TAMPA BAY – A new buoy deployed last month by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Old Tampa Bay capsized this month because of high winds associated with winter storm systems plunging into the area.
Kevin Baxter, FWC media relations coordinator, said the buoy and the weather instruments and equipment, which cost approximately $70,000, didn't survey the January storms.
The arctic blast, also dubbed the polar vortex by meteorologists, twice forced winter storm systems in the area, bringing along high winds of nearly 25 mph at times and cold temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.
According to an FWC news release, the high-tech buoy, considered the next-generation system, was designed to transmit underwater information such as water temperature, salinity, clarity and dissolved oxygen every five minutes to FWC researchers. It also was to monitor chlorophyll fluorescence, a precursor to harmful algae blooms such as red tide, which produces toxins that can kill wildlife including fish, birds and marine mammals.
The data collected was to help researchers assess the success of restoration projects and refine water quality standards.
Baxter wrote in an email that the FWC is able to gather “water quality information from the area using some of the underwater equipment that had been inside the buoy.”
“While we aren't planning to use the buoy itself for the same purpose again, it and many of its components can still be used for other research activities conducted by us and our partners.”