Why shall I use a FerryBox?
Automated instrument packages on ships of opportunities, here called "FerryBox", are already in use since many years, starting form the simple "Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR)" with its single purpose of collecting plankton samples during regular ship cruises up to the most recent sophisticated "FerryBoxes" with an ensemble of different sensors and biogeochemical analysers.
For automated ocean observing it soon became clear that monitoring of surface waters using buoys, piles and platforms with ins situ sensors is very expensive mainly due to -not yet solved- bio-fouling of the sensors. This requires frequent manual cleaning if a consitent data quality shall be achieved. Depending on the region (water temperature and eutrophic status of the waters) the systems have to be cleaned every week (eutrophic tropical waters), every months (temperate eutrophic waters) or only ervery half a year (cold oligotrophic waters). The main problem is that the bio-fouling depends as well on other factors. So it may be that in the North Sea a buoy system is still clean after 1 month in automn and in another year it is already fully overgrown within 14 days.
Other major advantage of FerryBoxes are:
- enough energy on the ships --> more complicated analyser system can be used
- sheltered conditions inside the ship --> sophisticated equipment can be installed
- easy maintenance in the harbour --> no additional ship time is needed
- the information from a transect is often better than from a single location
All these points speak for the use of FerryBoxes in areas where suitable ship lines are regularly operating. The following web pages will show you many FerryBoxes under operation and some applications from different fields.