Due to the coastal locations of the COMPASS Network of Buoys they have to be able to withstand adverse conditions such as being battered by stormy weather and biofouling from algae and other sea life. The equipment on each buoy needs to be robust, but to ensure accuracy and operation it still requires regular maintenance, calibration and repair. The Mace Head buoy, located off Galway bay and operated by the Marine Institute, has endured 3 winters so far dealing with hurricane force winds from numerous Atlantic storms. Similar to the other buoys instruments at Mace Head collect and transmit data on oceanographic and environmental conditions which are of interest to policy leads in managing Marine Protected Areas and understanding broader processes such as Ocean Acidification.
The project is also deploying new moorings in other regions; the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute, based in Northern Ireland, are upgrading the scientific equipment and telemetry systems at their 38a and Strangford buoys. The new telemetry system installed at Strangford at the end of 2020 now means the project has near real-time transmission of data on conditions at the mouth of Strangford Lough, whilst the 38a mooring located in the Irish Sea is currently being completed with a package to be deployed during 2021.
The Scottish Association for Marine Science is also in the process of replacing, maintaining and calibrating equipment on two of their moorings at Tiree and Firth of Lorne. As with the other buoys, instruments are attached to a frame on each of the moorings and these require considerable logistics for the deployment and regular maintenance.
Not only do the oceanographic teams have to replace and maintain instruments on the buoys, or repair mooring hardware, but in some cases the complete buoy has to be replaced which is the case with the buoy owned by Marine Scotland Science (MSS) at Loch Ewe. The team at MSS have commissioned a second buoy to be deployed in the summer which will further support the Network and ensure a lasting legacy for the COMPASS project.
Data from Mace Head is live on Ditigal Ocean and available via the following link through the COMPASS project website Digital Ocean – COMPASS (compass-oceanscience.eu). The project plans to add more buoy locations to Digital Ocean this year.