Collecting Kelp Data in Waves

By Vicky Vásquez

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Beautiful morning at Stillwater Cove to deploy a newly constructed instrument for measuring waves in a kelp forest. (Photo credit: Dr. Colleen Durkin)

What do you get when a wave hits a kelp bed? The attention of two different labs at MLML! To better understand wave behavior as it meets a kelp bed, graduate student Steven Cunningham from the Phycology lab is partnering with Physical Oceanography professor, Dr. Tom Connolly.

Understanding this physical process will help components of Mr. Cunningham's thesis work on kelp forest ecosystems. The instrument needed for this work is an Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV), which obtains high resolution water velocity and pressure. The ADV will allow Mr. Cunningham to see when waves pass over the instrument and then get direction as well as velocity of wave orbitals.



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Dr. Tom Connolly tests out the ADV technology with his laptop before field deployment. (Photo Credit: Steven Cunningham).

Mr. Cunningham and Dr. Connolly have recently built a prototype housing for kelp bed deployments. Their ADV's unique design includes legs that fold up to reduce entanglement when the instrument is retrieved by line. It is this feature that has led to the ADV's nickname- the Virus.

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Meet the Virus! An ADV created by Steven Cunningham and Dr. Tom Connolly. (Photo Credit: Steven Cunningham).