After three years of waiting, the Gulf of Mexico’s only underwater live feed camera is being installed this week at Navarre Beach’s artificial snorkel reef.
The 360-degree camera created by View into the Blue (VITB) is part of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station’s (NBMSS) expansion, the interpretive center Gulf Coast Discovery Center. The reef cam will offer livestream views of the reefs diverse wildlife to their website at www.navarresciencestation.org. Plans are to eventually build a viewing pavilion at the NBMSS as well Director Charlene Mauro.
The camera and install cost roughly $60,000 and was paid out of grant money awarded to the NBMSS, including RESTORE funds from the BP oil spill.
Mauro, her dual enrollment marine biology students, divers, volunteers and members of VITB laid cabling and installing equipment both under water at the reef and along the shoreline, though weather conditions complicated the process. Swells at the reef this week reached nearly 5 feet at one point Mauro said.
Those weather conditions made it nearly impossible to safely carry the two nearly 500 pound concrete sinkers that are used to anchor the camera and its scientific nodes Mauro said.
With the camera weighing nearly 300 pounds, she said it also takes a lot of coordination and favorable weather to install.
Even after the camera is finally underwater, the live feed will not automatically be available.
“One of the things people should understand that it’s going to take a week or so to get all the [information technology] stuff running. There is a lot behind the scenes,” she said.
The camera itself is encased in a roughly basketball-sized glass dome. The device has a self-cleaning wiper arm feature and is designed to last under water indefinitely with little need for maintenance, a design specially created by VITB.
For more information pickup the Dec. 15 edition of the Navarre Press.