The “FerryBox” is a state-of-the-art equipment that will make to obtain unprecedented records of oceanographic variables in the extreme south of Chile, particularly from the Strait of Magellan to the Beagle Channel. The instrument will be attached to a vessel and it is estimated that it will start operating in mid-2021.
Andrea Navarro, IDEAL Center. The manufacturing and assembly process of a complex oceanographic equipment that will allow obtaining unprecedented records of the environmental conditions of marine ecosystems in the Magallanes Region, began in Jena, Germany. The highly modular instrument will include the world’s first automated prototype that will collect toxins from microalgae: It will permanently assess the state of phycotoxin concentrations, their origin, persistence, temporal and spatial dynamics in fjords and channels.
It is a “FerryBox”, whose acquisition began to take shape after the oceanographers of the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), Dr. Ricardo Giesecke, Dr. José Garcés-Vargas and Dra. Andrea Piñones were awarded the financing of a Scientific and Technological Equipment Program (Fondequip-2019).
A multidisciplinary team of scientists will attach the permanent measurement system to the “Yaghan” ferry belonging to Transbordadora Austral Broom, which runs the Punta Arenas – Puerto Williams route. Thanks to this, they will be able to continuously monitor the physical, chemical and biological conditions of surface water from the Strait of Magellan to the Beagle Channel.
“Due to the pandemic, we have had a delay in the sensor purchase and acquisition processes. However, we estimate that by mid-2021 we will be able to have the equipment working in the Magallanes Region,” assures Dr. Giesecke, also an academic at the Institute of Marine and Limnological Sciences (ICML) of the UACh.
Professionals from the Institute of Fisheries Development (IFOP), the University of Magallanes (UMAG), the University of Biobío, the University of Concepción (UdEC), the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (PUCV), the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI, Germany), the University of Oldenburg (UOL, Germany), the Helmoltz Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG, Germany), and the Old Dominion University (ODU, United States) also participate in the project.
Cutting edge technology
The oceanographic instrument will measure surface variables of temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), oil, turbidity, chlorophyll, nitrate, and dissolved oxygen. In addition, a spectroradiometer will be installed on the vessel to monitor the optical characteristics of the water. This will allow a more detailed characterization of the Southern Ocean and generate algorithms for the calibration of satellite products.
At the same time, the “FerryBox” will have an automated water collector that will extract and store 24 1L seawater samples anywhere during navigation, which will later be analyzed in the laboratory. All the information collected by the sensors will be sent via 4G network to a server and then made available on an online platform, from where people can view the data and download the information.
In addition, work is being done on the implementation of a connection to a field flow cytometer belonging to the UdeC, which can be easily connected (plug and play) when required to use, increasing the capabilities of the “FerryBox”.
Concurrently, together with researchers from AWI and engineers from the manufacturing company (4H-jena), they are working on the development of the first automated system for the collection of toxins produced by microalgae (Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Tracking SPATT). This will allow monitoring the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of various types of toxins along the waterway.