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How to Deploy a Drifter

What does it take to deploy a drifting buoy (drifter), you might ask?

It’s easy! If you were traveling on a research ship you could help deploy a drifter by tossing it overboard. Here’s what you do:

  • Remove the plastic covering (shrink-wrapped) from the buoy on the ship.
  • Record the five-digit ID number of the drifter inscribed on the surface float.
  • A magnet is then removed from the buoy, which starts a transmitter (located in the upper dome) to allow data from the buoy to be sent to a satellite and then to a ground-based station so we can retrieve the data.
  • Throw the unpacked drifter from the lowest possible deck of the ship into the sea. The tether (cable) and drogue (long tail that is 15 meters long) will unwrap and extend below the sea surface where it will allow the drifter to float and move in the ocean currents.
  • Record the date, time, and location of the deployment as well as the five-digit ID.
  • Send information to the Global Drifter Center in Miami, Florida.

It’s that easy!!!