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CREST Research Buoys

In our mission to address the complex issues of environmental contamination in South Florida, the NSF CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment (CAChE) at Florida International University features cutting-edge technology in contaminant detection, monitoring, and analysis. Central to this are our three CREST Research Buoys, which were specially-designed to be deployed in both shallow freshwater ecosystems and near-shore marine environments. Each buoy features an array of high-tech sensors used to collect data on general water quality and can be set to take measurements as frequently as every five minutes.


The buoys' water quality parameters include:

  • Temperature
  • Conductivity (for salinity)
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • pH
  • Turbidity
  • Chlorophyll
  • Depth
  • Directional flow rates
All sensors are maintained automatically by a self-cleaning wiper system that prevents biofouling and allows for long-term deployment. Additionally, the buoys are equipped with a set of solar panels which recharge the central battery and can extend sampling periods to several months. Data collected can be automatically transmitted via cellular uplink every 15 minutes, making the information available in nearly real-time to our CREST CAChE team and the general public.

First Deployment

In response to the recent red tide outbreak on the east coast of Florida, we have deployed our first CREST Research Buoy at Haulover Inlet near FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus! The buoy is monitoring water quality and measuring temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, depth, and chlorophyll which can indicate potential algal blooms. The data collected is updated online every hour and is available to the public. 

Second Deployment 

Our second research buoy was deployed at a Coral Gables canal by our students, Matt Smith and Marbelys Garriga! The buoy is monitoring urban water quality to compare normal conditions with extremes, such as during heavy rains and high tides. The data collected is updated online every hour and is available to the public.