News and Events Header Graphic


NOAA logo

Press Releases

Aug. 20, 2012

Isabel Gaoteote
(684) 633-5155

Global ocean drifter deployed
off of Fagatele Bay, American Samoa

Schools and scientists alike benefit from this "21st century message in a bottle" launch

Getting an early jump on the start of the school year, four area students deployed a NOAA ocean drifter today into the waters offshore of Fagatele Bay, contributing to a global array that yields vital environmental data. The students, all of Samoana High School, are part of the new Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science course. Today's deployment is the first time high school students have launched a drifter buoy from American Samoa.

"We're extremely excited for our students. They have the opportunity to participate in NOAA's Adopt A Drifter program, which gives students across the U.S. the chance to learn about the ocean environment right in their classrooms, and with the same near real time data that ocean and climate scientists use," said Vernonika Mortenson, NOAA's Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary education and community coordinator.

Staff at the sanctuary have coordinated the launch in American Samoa, in partnership with the NOAA Adopt a Drifter Program, the Ocean Swimming/Ocean Science course at Samoana High School, and the assistance of the local Marine Patrol unit.

Through the Adopt a Drifter program, NOAA enables students to learn about the essential role the ocean plays in earth's climate and weather and our own living conditions. Schools "adopt" a drifter equipped with climate sensors. As the drifter, a 44-pound floating ocean buoy, moves in the ocean currents, it measures and transmits sea surface temperature by satellite. The currents carry heat from place to place, which affects climate. Each drifter is part of a global ocean array that students can follow online, along with the particular drifter they adopted.

Drifters help forecast the path of approaching hurricanes, predict the movement of ocean pollutants, and track the migration of many species. In addition, while satellite technology makes sea surface temperature measurements possible from space, drifters are needed to ensure these measurements are accurate. Without drifter observations to correct satellite measurements, these measurements can err due to dust and other elements in the atmosphere.

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebooklink leaves government site, Twitterlink leaves government site and our other social media channels.

On the Web:
NOAA's Adopt a Drifter Program
NOAA Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

leaving site indicates a link leaves the site. Please view our Link Disclaimer for more information.
Revised July 31, 2017 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Privacy Policy | For Employees | User Survey