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New wave buoy for Victorian surfers

By Stu Nettle in Swellnet Dispatch

Though surfers use them, most wavebuoys haven't been dropped in place by surfers. The primary function of buoys is to service industry and governments, and the reason for this limitation is price. Depending upon make, wavebuoys can cost between $50,000 and $100,000, plus expenses to moor and maintain the buoy.

Recently a new manufacturer came onto the market and researchers at Deakin University dropped the first one in waters off the Victorian coast. If all goes to plan, there'll be a whole network of these buoys - called Spoondrift buoys - along the coast. Just like existing buoys they'll serve a lofty purpose, yet surfers will also be able to check them for swell info.

Swellnet recently spoke to Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.

Swellnet: Someone informed me that you've just dropped a new wave buoy off Port Fairy. Is that correct? Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou: Yeah, it's been there since mid-September.

I'm assuming it's not there to provide information to free-loading surfers. What's its purpose? There's a need for monitoring waves for a number of reasons and we are working with the State government, University partners at Deakin University, and University of Melbourne and the National Integrated Marine Observing System to fill gaps in knowledge of the wave climate and establish a wave buoy network for Victoria.

The drivers locally are concerns around coastal erosion, and we don't really have sustained accurate measures of the wave climate. We need this to inform our models of how our coasts are likely to respond now and into the future. We're likely to see swells tend more southerly and there's a lot of concern that our coastlines will realign to some degree.

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