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An Argos ocean buoy visits the Spanish coast

Aug 20, 2019

An Argos ocean buoy deployed off the coast of Banyuls, France, in May 2019, has been visiting the Spanish coastline – along with approximately 30 million tourists this summer. The buoy, deployed within the French Space Agency’s Argonautica project, in collaboration with students and teachers from the Lycée Alexis Monteil, was designed to study the Liguro-Provençal current. Several international rescue efforts have helped the buoy to stick to its principal mission, ocean observation – instead of visiting Valencia’s beautiful beaches.

An Argos buoy among tourists in Spain

deployment pegase2019

Students from Lycée Alexis Monteil with Pégase2019 and the ocean buoys they designed.

In the framework of the Argonautica educational project, teachers and students from Lycée Alexis Monteil  in Rodez, France, built five experimental Argos buoys. Their objective: to study the Liguro-Provençal current.

On May 7, 2019,  the latest of these buoys was deployed off the coast of Banyuls, France, a town close to the Spanish border. Argonautica also launched a small yellow floating Argos buoy, named Pégase2019, meant to check and compare the paths. After two months’ at sea, and having observed some interesting features still to be analyzed, Pégase2019 crossed the continental shelf and drifted to the Masbo de Moncofa Beach, near Valencia, on the 24th of July.

An international rescue effort

The Spanish Maritime Safety Agency – SASEMAR – created in 1992 is the Spanish Search & Rescue state agency, also in charge of pollution prevention and response as well as maritime traffic control and training. It forms part of the Spanish Ministry of Transport and Public Works. In this context, SASEMAR is among the most significant end-users of reliable met-ocean information. SASEMAR picked up the buoy at the Masbo de Moncofa Beach, and asked the Balearic Islands Coastal Ocean Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB) for support. SOCIB is a Marine Research Infrastructure, a multi-platform and integrated ocean observing and forecasting system that provides streams of data, added value products, and forecasting services from the coast to the open ocean. SOCIB is also a long-term Argos user (since 2010). They coordinated the effort with the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (Jovellanos together with the MRCC Castellón), Argonautica project and  Argos User services to redeploy the buoy on board the SASEMAR’s rescue boat “Sabik” on July 26th.

Back to the beaches

Pegase2019 ArgosWeb

Map of the eastern region of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, showing the trajectory of the buoy Pégase2019 and current position (red circle) after being re-deployed by the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency on July 26th and on August 7th, as seen  on ArgosWeb.

But the attraction to Valencia’s beaches was too great! After just a week, it returned to shore, this time a bit North of the Port of Valencia – at Playa de la Arenas.

The Spanish Maritime Safety Agency (Jovellanos together with the MRCC Valencia, this time) fetched it a second time. SOCIB coordinated the operations once again, advising the Spanish Maritime Agency to deploy the buoy if possible off the continental shelf in late afternoon. Thus the buoy was deployed by helicopter “Helimer 204” on the 7th of August at 18h30, off the 200m-depth line, in the context of a routine training exercise of SASEMAR’s staff.

After another week of ocean observations, on August 15th, someone found  the buoy at sea and brought it to a  Nautical Club some 60 km south of Valencia. SOCIB was again notified, and the buoy is enjoying the Levante beaches while waiting for redeployment.

More info about Oceanography and Hydrology

To the sea, at last!

Thanks to another international effort the educational buoy will soon be back at sea and continue to collect data for the French Space Agency and students at Lycée Monteil. Thanks to everyone involved in the rescue efforts!

To follow the Pégase2019 this summer:

For more about ArgosWeb:

Contact the Argos team

Photo copyright: Jose Javier García García – SAR Operator from SASEMAR MRCC- Castellón