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WFS Technologies Integrates Wireless Capability with AXYS Buoy for U$2.5 million NOAA Contract

05 August 2010

WFS Technologies, world leading supplier of through-water wireless radio frequency (RF) technology for communication, navigation and power transfer, has successfully delivered wireless communication capability into a WatchKeeper™ buoy from AXYS Technologies Inc. (AXYS). The WatchKeeper™ buoy is part of a 4 year, $2.5 million contract with the US National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the ongoing monitoring of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System (CBIBS) program, operated by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in Annapolis, MD, has a network of WatchKeeper™ buoys from AXYS Technologies Inc to continuously monitor oceanographic and meteorological conditions in the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States.

Real-time environmental monitoring data is transmitted wirelessly between seabed sensors and the AXYS surface buoy using the Seatext® modem from WFS. Data from the buoys, such as wind speed, temperature, and wave height, is used to inform and educate local users, who include mariners, kayakers and schools who can use the data to get a better understanding of their local marine environment and also provide long term trend data the about changes in the bay.

Seatext® is the world’s first commercial through-water and through-ground radio communication system, designed to interface with sensors and control units. Seatext® is designed to provide 2- way wireless RF communications through seawater at data rates up to 100 bps. Seatext® will also communicate across the air-to-water boundary and through underwater obstacles that are normally considered impenetrable to conventional techniques. The modem is not affected by reverberations or biofouling, performs well in very shallow water (5m-50m in the Chesapeake), and is unaffected by high turbidity conditions.

The first subsurface transmitting buoy will be placed over Dominion Gooses Reef, one of twenty artificial reef sites in the Chesapeake Bay area. Construction materials from a local project have been relocated to the bay, to create a new habitat for the area’s oyster population that has been devastated by decades of overharvest. Since the late 19th century, the eastern oyster has contributed millions of dollars to the region's economy as well as contributing to the health of the bay itself (an adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day).

Both the reef itself and the buoy system have been sponsored by the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative and the Dominion Foundation in a project to repopulate the oyster for which the Chesapeake area has been famous for generations. The oysters are relocated to the new reef; they attach and hopefully create a new and self-sustaining population. Bottom water quality data delivered to the buoy via WFS wireless communications links are transmitted to the internet by a CDMA link on the buoy, ensuring optimum conditions are maintained. To see the latest information visit and select Gooses Reef.

CEO of WFS Technologies, Mark Volanthen comments; “Our collaboration with AXYS Technologies shows how WFS’s wireless technology can enhance monitoring systems by delivering real-time data from subsea sensors. It’s use here at the Chesapeake Bay shows how the information can be used to inform and educate local communities, however the technology can also be used to support wider initiatives seeking early warning systems to protect the environment, such as for the prevention of water pollution, for use in aquaculture or for tidal or flood monitoring”.

CBIBS project manager Doug Wilson, an oceanographer at the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, said "This is the first CBIBS buoy to provide real-time subsurface water quality data to scientists and the public. The WFS Seatext system has been easy to integrate and provides us with an efficient, robust solution for delivering this important information."