Collaborative research has led to the installation of real-time water quality equipment and a weather station on Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach.
Recent efforts by S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Cooperative Research Program, Coastal Carolina University and Apache Oceanfront Pier and Family Campground have given rise to a monitoring station that allows anglers to check the water quality and weather conditions around Apache Pier prior to visiting. Bottom-dwelling and surface water sensors transfer information such as temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen levels to an archival website every 15 minutes.
Additionally, the weather station relays air temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity and rainfall totals to the same site. The project is designed to benefit anglers by providing information that helps determine which species to target depending on the reported conditions.
For more information about the Cooperative Research Program, contact Jason Powers, program coordinator, at (843) 953-6608, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea behind the installation of the equipment at Apache Pier arose from angler reports in mid-July 2004 of an unusually large influx of flounder catches. Data provided by Coastal Carolina University researchers suggested significantly low levels of oxygen in waters around Apache Pier, and accordingly, scientists predicted that a 10-mile stretch along the Grand Strand had similar low oxygen water levels.
According to Powers, the cooperative research helped to determine that a real-time monitoring station on one of the piers along the Grand Strand could act as an early warning device if oxygen levels and other water quality parameters were to deteriorate in the same manner again. “Apache Pier was chosen as the installation site for the monitoring equipment because it’s situated where the flounder anomaly occurred,” says Powers “and, at a quarter-mile long, it is the East Coast’s longest fishing pier.” During late 2006, water quality sensors were calibrated and placed off of Apache Pier and the weather station was installed, enabling anglers to retrieve a report on conditions in the area before fishing, and allowing Cooperative Research scientists to keep an eye on water quality levels. Coastal Carolina University professor and Director of the Waccamaw Watershed Academy, Dr. Susan Libes, is using the data collected from the Apache Pier water quality equipment and weather station for hypoxia research. S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and S.C. Sea Grant Consortium are also funding partners in the collaborative research.
Sue Carroll, Marketing and Activity Director for Apache Pier and an instrumental partner in the monitoring project has interacted with many anglers already finding the real-time data a useful fishing resource. According to Carroll, “Anglers can access the website, check water temperatures, oxygen levels as well as many other indicators which will then factor into their decision about what type of bait to bring, and what species might be active in our area that day.” Carroll noted that many anglers visiting Apache Pier are fishing with their families, and this allows them to use the real-time data features with their kids, helping to teach them of the importance of being good stewards for natural resources.DNR’s Cooperative Research Program receives funding from National Marine Fisheries Service, and is granted funds to be distributed to commercial and recreational fishermen. The programs allow scientists and fishermen to bring valuable tools and experience to the objectives of a research project. Working together, fishermen and scientists can improve understanding of the complex interactions between fishery resources and fishing practices.