Google’s Street View feature has covered millions of miles since its inception in 2007, offering users panoramic views of streets for easy navigation. Now, a project to equip buoys in Lake Michigan seeks to extend a similar functionality to anglers who want to view the conditions of their favorite fishing spots from home. Recorded and displayed to users are wind speed, direction, air temperature, wave conditions, and water temperature.

The device that captures all this data is surprisingly simple, consisting of only a specialized webcam and data suite attached to a buoy. The first of these devices, constructed by engineering firm LimnoTech, has already been fitted to a buoy between Holland and Grand Haven in Michigan. According to the Holland Sentinel, the buoy reports pertinent data and images from its webcam every 10 minutes, which can all be viewed online.

“The webcam offers a quick glance,” explained project engineer Edward Verhamme. “You can get a good feel from the numbers, but a picture’s worth a thousand words. Or in this case, a thousand data points.”

The data is invaluable for forecasters, who can use the information to confirm their own predictions for regional weather movements. This could mean more accurate and timely warnings for boaters and swimmers, as well as allowing fishermen a better chance to gauge water temperatures.

“It can help Michigan fishermen who are looking for a certain temperature break,” Verhamme said. “Let’s say they want to know where and at what depth the water is 50 degrees. They can hop online and see it.”

The project is a joint venture between LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA). Data from the buoy can be found at the Upper Great Lakes Observing System’s website. The Holland buoy is expected to remain in Lake Michigan through fall of 2015 and LimnoTech is already petitioning for NOAA funding to equip more buoys.

Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration

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