The Wireless Open Water Logger (WOWL) Project is a NOAA-funded effort by Creare LLC, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center. The goal is to enable large-scale opportunistic ocean sampling by developing a low-cost, reliable, and open-source ocean temperature and depth logger. Changes in ocean temperature have a profound impact on the productivity of fisheries and aquaculture. Sampling offshore ocean temperatures, particularly at depth, is challenging and expensive. Opportunistic sampling from fishing gear can address this sampling need. Commercial fishermen are more and more aware of the correlations between water temperature and harvest. Existing programs, such as Environmental Monitoring on Lobster Traps (EMOLT, a collaboration between NOAA and the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation), have capitalized on this on a small (but ever increasing) basis. These data are already contributing to our understanding of links between temperature and catch. Expanding these programs is hindered by the high cost of sensor nodes and the need for integrating data-transmission hardware with the host ship. A simpler and less expensive approach is needed. The WOWL is designed to inexpensive, rugged, and easy to use. The WOWL integrates with users’ smartphones (via Bluetooth Low Energy and a free application), eliminating the need for dedicated hardware to retrieve and upload data. No ship integration is necessary. Our vision for the future is that data are geo-tagged by the smartphone and then uploaded to an existing, cloud-based, and publicly accessible data repository. The data can be accessed via standard, open data formats (e.g., CSV text files) from both the mobile application and the cloud repository. Data will be visualized as soon as it is uploaded via WeatherCitizen or via open online visualization toolkits. Resources: Project Website GitHub Repository For additional information please contact the Creare team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Federal Procurement – Sole Source Information The right to receive sole-source awards is a real benefit of the SBIR Program both to the government and to the participating companies. The SBA SBIR/STTR Policy Directive dictates the justification that an agency can and must use to justify the sole-source award. Predictably, that justification reads that the new award must derive from, extend, or complete prior SBIR effort and be funded with non- SBIR funds.
Open Source Technology
Technology that is available royalty free that we want to feature in the Open Source section of the TPO marketplace.
The NOAA patented Clean Harvest Cable Grid (US Patent 10,966,415 B2) allows marine mammals, including sea turtles and other large marine animals, to escape from large fish trawls with minimal impact to normal fishing operations or target catch retention. The Type I (TI) shown above was designed to work in high profile fish trawls. NOAA has patented this technology and is making it available under an Open Source license to ensure designs are compliant and do not harm sea turtles or other marine mammals. For more information, please contact Nick Hopkins at NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.
Device could help protect threatened ecosystems and aid fishing communities The Challenge Over the last 20 years, invasive lionfish populations have dramatically increased throughout the western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. Lionfish have already caused a decline in native species that have significant ecological, cultural, and commercial value. Further impacts on coral reefs and other important ecosystems are anticipated, but not yet fully understood. Fortunately, as the threat of lionfish has intensified, so too have the levels of awareness and concern among not just scientists and fishers, but among members of the public. In recent years, state-sponsored lionfish fishing derbies have incentivized divers to remove lionfish from coastal waters, and the growing demand for this tasty and widely-promoted sustainable seafood has surpassed the supply. Although spearfishing has proven to be an effective approach for managing populations in shallow areas, lionfish remain uncontrolled in deeper waters, where they continue to threaten fragile ecosystems (and evade dinner plates). Therefore, there is a demonstrated need and resounding demand for effective, non-destructive ways to capture lionfish that linger beyond recreational scuba depths. Innovative Solution NOAA’s recently-patented lionfish trap could be a solution that offers both ecological and commercial benefits. The trap is shaped like a change purse and is constructed primarily out of a hinged steel frame, attached netting, and a centrally-located vertical panel called a “fish attraction device”. Once deployed from the surface, the lionfish trap descends vertically through the water until it hits the bottom, where two curved extensions cause the jaws to spring open and lay flat on the bottom. The fish attraction device is then revealed, drawing lionfish towards the center of the six-foot diameter net. Later, the trap can be recovered by pulling on a surface line, which closes the trap’s hinged jaws and captures the fish within the ring of netting. This innovative technology was designed with specific operational and conservation-related goals in mind, and as a result, has several benefits over conventional fish traps. For example, the lionfish trap’s open non-containment design prevents “ghost fishing,” which is when gear “continues to fish” after being lost or abandoned. The lack of bait in the trap minimizes by-catch, or the capture of unwanted fish. Furthermore, the trap causes minimal damage to the ocean floor, is easily transportable on fishing boats due to its flat design, and is relatively simple to construct, deploy, and retrieve. Pathway to patent The lionfish trap was invented by Dr. Steve Gittings, who serves as the Chief Scientist of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. Gittings first had the idea for the trap in 2014, after attending a colleague’s presentation about modifying lobster traps so they could be used for deep-water lionfish capture. Looking at her photos, Gittings noticed that lionfish were present, but far more were hovering around the trap than inside it, and that inspired the idea to design a trap that would take advantage of lionfishes’ tendency to aggregate around vertical structures. “It started in my garage as a PVC cube,” said Gittings, who describes himself as a “Garagineer”. Over the next couple of years, the invention progressed through several phases of design and testing, during which the trap was modified to be less bulky, easier to deploy, and more enticing to lionfish. Throughout the process, Gittings engaged recreational and commercial fishermen from numerous places, including Florida, North Carolina, Aruba, Mexico, and Belize. Incorporating the input and expertise of these partners allowed Gittings to improve the lionfish trap so that it meets everyone’s needs. In addition to NOAA, much of the testing of the trap prototypes was supported by donations and funds from Lionfish University, ReefSave, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and involved numerous volunteers and graduate students. The patent for Gittings’ trap, formally known as the “Apparatus for Harvesting Lionfish,” was filed in April 2018 and issued in February 2021. The role of technology transfer Initially, Gittings did not consider patenting the trap. He explained, “My interest in developing these traps, as a civil servant, was to keep it as open-source as possible, so that anybody can use these to not only help support their fishermen, but to protect ecosystems around the Caribbean”. Gittings reached out to NOAA’s Technology Partnerships Office (TPO) after a colleague recommended that he speak with someone about potentially patenting the trap. TPO is NOAA’s research-to-commercialization office. Among other functions, TPO helps NOAA inventors patent their scientific and technological innovations and transfer them into the commercial marketplace, where they can more broadly impact ecosystems, communities, and economies. After speaking with TPO’s Technology Transfer Program Manager, as well as a representative from the NIST General Counsel Office, Gittings said he realized that the best way to continue testing and improving the trap so that he could accomplish his goals was to “get control over the trap through patenting so that nobody else could stop us.” Gittings expressed gratitude for the support he received during the process of filing for the patent. “They interpreted everything I told them, going through every detail of the trap, and then put them on paper in language that the Patent Office understands. It was absolutely essential to have them do that work.” Looking ahead Gittings’ long-term vision for the lionfish traps, should they prove to be an effective conservation method, is for fishers to use the traps outside of their primary fishing season. In using these lionfish traps, he said, “The fishermen would be supplementing their income and be doing conservation at the same time.” Gittings added that a supplemental fishery targeting lionfish could also reduce the pressure on native species, such as snapper and grouper, which are overfished in some areas. And of course, commercial use of the trap would provide an environmentally-friendly and reliable harvest for the seafood industry and its hungry customers. If the lionfish trap is successful, it will serve as another example of how technology transfer at NOAA contributes to realizing the agency’s guiding vision of healthy and resilient ecosystems, communities, and economies. The next step is to determine whether the traps are effective for controlling lionfish populations in deep water habitats; the prototypes were tested at depths of about 100 feet, but lionfish can be very abundant down to several hundred feet below the surface. In October 2020, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) received a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grant to pursue this research and commercialization testing. REEF plans to collaborate with members of the Florida Keys lobster fishing community and test and improve various aspects of trap design, deployment, and long-term effectiveness.
Sub-Surface Automated Dual Water Sampler (SAS) Designed by researchers at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the University of Miami to help scientists study water chemistry on shallow reef habitats. Explore the SAS website, use it to guide you in building and using your own water samplers, embrace the maker movement and improve on our design. If you are a teacher, there are free lesson plans to download that include labs and activities related to science, technology, and engineering. Check out the NOAA SAS website and please use the SAS to learn about and explore our oceans!
Opuhala was the ancient Hawaiian goddess of corals and spiny creatures. We have chosen this name to represent our project to study the influence of fluctuating sea temperatures on the growth and health of corals around the world, and also to compare the in situ data with satellite-measured data in an effort to improve satellite algorithms. Three different types of coral reefs, fringing, barrier, and atolls will be monitored at 5m, 10m and 15m depth, where appropriate. The sea temperature sensor developed for the Opuhala project has been developed with low cost in mind because of the many sites that will be measuring sea temperature in this global project. Learn more about the Opuhala Project Download Specifications and Software to make your own sensor