Hop Aboard This Repurposed Warship to Learn About Science!

Docked on the Hudson River looking out on the West Harlem shoreline, you’ll find the Baylander, a former Vietnam-era navy warship with a new purpose—serving as a community science laboratory space. Here, scientists and students from BioBus study aquatic life in the Hudson River Estuary using plankton tows, microscopes, artificial habitats, and water chemistry tests. 

BioBus’ science laboratory space on the Baylander

In addition to providing recreational opportunities and scenic amenities, the Hudson River Estuary plays a part in improving water quality and is home to notable biodiversity. Many kinds of animals, including the American eel, Atlantic sturgeon, fiddler crabs, jellyfish, seahorses, and more, call this estuary home. 

View of the Hudson River from the Baylander

Like other bodies of water in New York City, the Hudson River is subject to raw sewage discharges, which lead to contaminated food webs, high bacteria counts, and low oxygen levels. Dissolved oxygen, often abbreviated as DO, is one of several water quality indicators that help identify whether a body of water is healthy and able to support aquatic life. DO in particular is a measure of how much oxygen is available to fish and other living aquatic organisms. ​​Low DO levels can result in die-offs in less tolerant fish species.

BioBus has partnered with Temboo to deploy sensors aboard the Baylander which monitor DO in the water (important for fish) and particulate matter in the air (important for humans). Each sensor is housed in a water-resistant enclosure and positioned in different locations on the ship.

One of the particulate matter sensors on the lower deck of the Baylander

As metal can interfere with radio signals, Temboo and BioBus had to work out positioning to get the best connection possible between the Temboo gateway and sensors. Additionally, flexible tubing was added to the cord of the DO sensor to protect it from weathering and accidental impact, perhaps from a wayward goose.

Flexible tubing (blue) added to the DO sensor

Every 15 minutes, members of the BioBus Temboo account can watch the air and water quality data come in on their computers or smartphones from the comfort of their homes. Community members can easily share the collected data either through a QR code or a CSV export. Take a look at some recent DO readings below:

Recent DO readings from the Baylander

With these sensors deployed on the Baylander, students and scientists at BioBus have been able to collect environmental data from the Hudson River in real time since July 2021. We’re excited to see what findings they uncover in the months ahead!

DO sensor deployed in the Hudson River

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our latest BioBus Spotlight cards, highlighting insights from data collected in February. You can also check out our interview with BioBus Community Scientist Ashley Pirovano.

If you or your organization are interested in environmental sensor data, and/or you’re interested in sharing insights about environmental data with your community, please contact us to learn how Temboo can help you!

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