Trawler tears off part of underwater observatory

Date: May 23, 2011

An unknown fishing trawler veered off track and knocked out a platform of the CAD 100-million (USD 102.6 million) Neptune Canada observatory on the sea floor off British Columbia’s (BC) Vancouver Island. The platform carried costly titanium instruments used for monitoring events ranging from earthquakes to tsunamis and was hit as the trawler pulled its colossal net across the sea floor in an off-limit area.

Reparations for the platform could cost anywhere from CAD 700,000 (USD 718,265) to CAD 1.7 million (USD 1.74 million), said Neptune Canada Director Chris Barnes. He said the event is a “major blow” for the observatory; the instruments on the “pod” have been on the sea floor since 2009 and were supposed to last 25 years.

The platform’s supersensitive devices transmit data to Neptune headquarters over the Internet in real time. They picked up evidence regarding the trawler’s approach and damage done against the observatory: a seismometer caught the vibrations and exact time when the trawler hit, and engineering data recorded when other instruments and cables were impacted and suddenly ceased functioning.

“We can actually detect how the instruments got disconnected, the precise time and the precise sequence of events,” Barnes said, reports The Montreal Gazette.



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