KASARAGOD: Four senior scientists of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in Chennai have landed in Kasaragod in search of a high-end weather observation buoy that went missing in deepsea in July.
The scientists said the buoy is among the 12 next-generation OMNI (Ocean Moored buoys in the Northern Indian Ocean) and was anchored north of Lakshadweep. "The last time we got a signal from the buoy was in July. The cable anchoring the buoy to the seabed might have snapped and its gadget drifted off," said an official.
The scientists reached Kasaragod after three videos of the buoy surfaced on Facebook on October 7. The videos had fishermen sitting on top of the buoy and making wild guesses on what it could be.
One Yoonas Sahib of Tanur in Malappuram uploaded one video with the comment: "Sea is not what you see from the shore. If you want to know the sea, you have to really go deep."
In the video, four fishermen were perched on top of the yellow buoy and one of them was mimicking the E Bull Jet YouTubers. "Guys, see what we have got guys. It has solar, it was washed out from a ship, guys," said a fisherman.
One Nandu had a comment under the video: "Guys, the case has reached Delhi, Guyzzz."
In the second video, another fisherman says: "We found it in the sea. It has five solar panels. It has some funky gadgets too. Looks like it belongs to the Navy. But whatever it is, we got some fish by following it."
In the third video of the buoy uploaded by one Ismayil 'Newbeach' on Facebook, a fisherman says: "This is something floating in the sea. We don't know what it is. It has a lot of electronic gadgets. This is off Parappanangadi (in Malappuram)."
The videos, though hilarious, gave vital clues of the buoy's whereabouts. "They might have climbed on top of it out of curiosity. But the videos put the buoy somewhere between Malappuram and Kasaragod," said an official.
The scientists of the NIOT have sought the help of Coastal police to locate the gadget. "The protective hood and the mast with sensors in the buoy system are found missing in the video," the four scientists wrote to coastal police.
According to the website of NIOT, the OMNI buoys are equipped with high-tech sensors to measure ocean currents, conductivity, temperature up to 500m depth, solar radiation, precipitation, and transmit data in real-time to Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS).
Further, as and when the buoys are retrieved from the location, high-resolution data from the hard disk of the buoys system is also provided to INCOIS.
The buoy systems alert scientists about the impending storms and cyclones brewing in the sea. The data is also provided to the National Weather Forecasting Centre and the Area Cyclone Warning Centre for enabling cyclone tracking and intensification. "We are not leaving without the buoy," said an official.