KOCHI: With repeated incidents of people, watercraft and aircraft going missing in the ocean, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) is mastering their Search and Rescue model. The service which is unique to the centre is based on a set of mathematical calculations of the current and wind in the ocean.
“Even if only one person is lost in the ocean, he or she could be found using the technique. We have accurate information on the current and wind around a particular place where the person is suspected to have gone missing. The direction and strength of the current and wind will help us identify where the person could be at the moment,” said T M Balakrishnan Nair, Scientist, INCOIS.
“We have only begun the operation. We have attended four to five incidents and in one case we were able to locate a body 4 km away from the said point,” he said.
The service could also be used to assist in crime investigations such as murder where the body is dropped into a water body. The model will help understand how far the body has drifted. The service can be performed anytime within a month but the earlier the information is received the more accurate the findings would prove to be. The service which is in its initial stages when fully developed would be of critical importance in search and rescue operations across the globe.
The data of tides and waves which is closely observed on a regular basis by the centre also predicts the probability of “Kallakadal” in local parlance.
The term, meaning sea thief in Malayalam, used by local fishermen and adopted by the UNESCO refers to the phenomenon when the sea creeps in during good weather. Recent studies by the centre shows a higher probability of ‘Kallakadal’ - a combination of swell waves and high tide mostly in U-shaped coastal regions. Through a frequent observation system, the centre keeps the fishermen and others updated about the results through mobile sms, television, radio, e-mails and mobile apps.
In its effort to combine local wisdom with scientific knowledge, the centre conducts regular user meets where hundreds of fishermen participate and contribute their understanding to the centre’s study on oceans.