GhostNet marine debris survey in the Gulf of Alaska—satellite guidance and aircraft observations

William G Pichel, Timothy S Veenstra, James H Churnside, Elena Arabini, Karen S Friedman, David G Foley, Russell E Brainard, Dale Kiefer, Simeon Ogle, Pablo Clemente-Colón, Xiaofeng Li
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2012, 65 (1-3): 28-41
Marine debris, particularly debris that is composed of lost or abandoned fishing gear, is recognized as a serious threat to marine life, vessels, and coral reefs. The goal of the GhostNet project is the detection of derelict nets at sea through the use of weather and ocean models, drifting buoys and satellite imagery to locate convergent areas where nets are likely to collect, followed by airborne surveys with trained observers and remote sensing instruments to spot individual derelict nets. These components of GhostNet were first tested together in the field during a 14-day marine debris survey of the Gulf of Alaska in July and August 2003. Model, buoy, and satellite data were used in flight planning. A manned aircraft survey with visible and IR cameras and a LIDAR instrument located debris in the targeted locations, including 102 individual pieces of debris of anthropogenic or terrestrial origin.

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