Cawthron Institute and Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd will be providing boaties with the key information they need to plan their summer trips in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region using "Kūtaicam", a data-capturing buoy deployed as part of the Open Ocean Aquaculture Programme.
Cawthron Institute deployed the buoy at the Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd's farm 8km off the coast from Ōpōtiki and is now publicly sharing some of the data it captures on weather conditions - including wind direction and strength, wave heights, and water temperature.
Information from the buoy is updated every 45 minutes. The data can be accessed via a page on the Cawthron Institute website and via a link on the Ōpōtiki District Council website's homepage.
"The buoy, which we've called Kūtaicam, kūtai meaning mussels, is right in the middle of the marine farm which is a very popular fishing site in the area so it will provide really good data for local boaties," says Cawthron Institute's Kevin Heasman, Programme Leader for the International Open Ocean Aquaculture Programme.
"We hope that people will use the information to make good decisions about when to safely go boating this summer. Data can also be viewed for the previous three days so that people can analyse trends. People should also check with MetService for regular weather updates."
"We're really pleased that the public can access some of the information provided by Kūtaicam," says Peter Vitasovich, Chief Executive of Whakatōhea Mussels. "It's a practical way that we can provide real time information about the weather conditions on the farm to our community. The marine farm is now becoming a popular fishing spot and safety at sea for our community is very important to us."
"The Ōpōtiki District Council is very pleased with the marine farm progress offshore and this latest step makes useful information available to our community in real time," says Ōpōtiki District Council CEO, Aileen Lawrie. "It will be easily accessible from the front page of our website, just in time for a busy Eastern Bay of Plenty summer period on our beaches and offshore marine area.
"Data from the buoy is also useful for a range of marine activities, not just fishing at the mussel farm," says Lawrie. "The information is helpful for people who are kayaking, going to the beach, fishing and diving right across the Eastern Bay of Plenty and it's also a great tool for civil defence and emergency management. Data the buoy provides is more relevant than that from the more distant Pukehina buoy."
A similar buoy called "Tascam" has been operating in Tasman Bay near Nelson since 2011 and there is another Open Ocean Buoy deployed in Pegasus Bay near Christchurch which will be accessible by the public soon.
"Sharing the data from the buoys with the public in this way is a great added benefit from our research activities," says Heasman. "We're delighted that the Ōpōtiki District Council and Whakatōhea Mussel have been so supportive of this initiative that makes data on sea conditions readily accessible to the public."
About the Open Ocean Programme and "Kūtaicam"
The Open Ocean Aquaculture Programme is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through its Endeavour Fund. The programme is developing new tools and methods that are needed to advance shellfish and seaweed aquaculture in the open ocean environment.
As part of the project the "Kūtaicam" weather, wave and water current buoy was installed by Cawthron with the assistance of Whakatōhea Mussels Ltd on its farm site approximately 8km off the coast from Ōpōtiki in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.