|FKNMS Diver David Becker|
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Mooring Buoy team monitors, repairs and installs valuable resource protecting buoys along the coral reef tract in the Florida Keys. This system was developed over 30 years ago by NOAA Resource Manager John Halas who tested the first mooring systems on French Reef in June 1981. To date there are over 470 mooring buoys available in the Florida Keys sanctuary. The embedment anchor system is now used in over 38 countries around the world.
Buoy installations include surface supported hydraulic tools to embed the hard bottom anchor eye and “MANTA RAY” anchor system into the soft sea bottom. When the ocean floor can’t be penetrated, a drill system using a special hollow two inch core barrel is used.
NOAA Diver Kent Edwards and David Becker install a mooring buoy on the Speigel Grove (above). Photos submitted by Brenda Altmeier.
MANTA RAY anchors are 8 feet long with a spade-like head that pivots. Once the anchor is driven into the soft substrate using an underwater jack hammer, a load locker is fitted over the rod and a hydraulic device is connected to the rod lifting it and locking the shovel end in an horizontal position.
|Manta Ray mooring buoy anchors|
The heavy equipment is lifted to and from the vessel by a davit system. Lift bags are utilized to bring equipment from the seafloor back to the surface. Once the anchor is installed, a shackle and mooring buoy line system are attached and the mooring is ready for use.
The R/V Agassiz is a Key West number one hull employed into NOAA service in the late 80’s. The vessel is specially outfitted for mooring installations and maintenance. It is named for early marine scientist Professor Louis Agassiz who studied the Florida coral reefs in 1851. “I may say that here, as in most cases where the operations of nature interfere with the designs of man, it is not by a direct intervention on our part that we may remedy the difficulties, but rather by a precise knowledge of their causes, which may enable us, if not to check, at least to avoid the evil consequences.” ("Extracts from the report of Professor Agassiz to the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, on the examination of the Florida reefs, keys, and coast").
Article and Photos submitted by:
Program Support Specialist
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary