In an effort to expand marine safety in Buzzards Bay, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support the long-term operation of a new high-tech wave-monitoring buoy, the agencies said in a press release.

MassDEP will provide $905,988 in funding through the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Trust Fund for the costs associated with the purchase and installation of the new Buzzard Bay buoy, a replacement buoy in case of vessel collision and five years of operation and maintenance of NOAA’s marine safety monitoring system that consists of the Cape Cod Bay buoy, Cape Cod Canal current-profiler and the Buzzard Bay buoy.

The buoy will be deployed by scientists from the Woods Hole Group approximately four nautical miles southwest of Cuttyhunk Island. Importantly, the buoy will improve safety and efficiency of marine transportation by providing sea-state information to mariners transiting the bay in addition to expanding the online marine monitoring systems operating in the area.

Following the April 2003 grounding of the B-120 barge and subsequent oil spill into Buzzards Bay, the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act established the trust fund to increase the commonwealth’s ability to prevent and respond to marine oil spills. The Act allows the trust funds to be used for vessel navigational safety improvements such as buoys and current-profilers.

The buoy’s data will be integrated into a regional buoy network map and added to a NOAA site for the Cape Cod area that includes a buoy in Cape Cod Bay that was installed in 2016 and an ocean current-profiler at the west entrance of the Cape Cod Canal that was installed in 2019.

The buoy measures wave height, wave period, wave direction and surface water temperature every 30 minutes. The National Weather Service and the US Coast Guard use these observations to help improve marine forecasts and to plan and conduct critical missions such as search-and-rescue efforts. Data from the buoy will also help improve boater safety as users can verify current wave conditions before leaving the dock, the release said.

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