College of the Redwood’s drifter, deployed two months ago, continues to hang on and is now off the coast of Mexico (http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_redwoods_2010_1.html). Its course has generally paralleled the California coast with only two major exceptions. North of Point Reyes the drifter reversed its course and spent several days heading north before resuming its southerly trend. When the drifter reached the Gulf of the Farallons it spent more than a week wandering within the Golden Gate shipping lanes. Since its escape from the Gulf of the Farallons the drifter has been heading steadily southward.
More recently the drifter has been showing signs of a potential early death. For days at a time the drifter has failed to broadcast its location. Then, somewhat miraculously, it would raise its head and tell us where it was. At this time it has become reliable again, reporting its position every four hours. Surprisingly, it has once again struck out in a new direction. For the last week, the drifter has been creeping ENE on a beeline for Ensenada, Mexico. Has it overcome its buoyancy problems, or has it been recovered by a fishing vessel that is slowly working it’s way back to port?
One of the real joys of this project has been puzzling over the factors affecting the drifter’s wanderings. Every day has produced new mysteries and revelations.