Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 5: Part 1 – Heading off to Lake Taal

Saturday we headed off to Lake Taal. I have blogged about Lake Taal before (remember the lake on the island on the lake on the island). Well, we were hoping to be able to deploy the boats in the inner crater (the volcano) but it was simply not possible. Recent rumblings had forced the local government to close the center island. Respecting their wishes, we instead deployed the boats in the outer lake.

The Volcano in the distance.
Dead fish can be a big problem
Scattered across Lake Taal are hundreds of fish pens. Within these pens, fishermen raise thousands of tonnes of fish. There provide a very important food source for Lake Taal’s immediate provinces and the provinces around.

A slight change in temperature can be disastrous for the fishermen. If the temperature rises slightly the levels of dissolved oxygen drops which is a death sentence to millions of fish. Monitoring of the temperature is therefore very important. Currently, however, there is no efficient system in place to monitor these slight changes in temperature.

As recently as May this year 752.6 metric tonnes of fish died in just a few days. These fish cost the fishermen and fish pen owners over P57million ($1.3 million USD).

Some of the many fish that were killed.

Red boat encounters a dead fish.

SOURCE: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/10339/weather-change-led-to-batangas-fishkill-says-bfar

Although, scientists are not sure whether the death was caused by a change in temperature or from over production (or perhaps both), it is clear that extensive research needs to occur to prevent such a disastrous event from reoccurring.

Could Airboats be a solution?

We believe that autonomous airboats could provide a solution to this problem. Firstly, an accurate temperature map could be constructed of the entire lake. Once this is done, areas where a temperature change could be revealed early would be monitored (perhaps daily or even twice a day) to see if there was any evidence of an imminent temperature rise.

If the boats predicted that the temperature was going to rise they could alert the local environmental agency who would advise fishermen to either harvest their fish or move them to cooler waters. The time between a change in temperature and millions of dead fish could be as little as 12 hours. Therefore, the alerting system would have to be very efficient in order to be effective. If it worked it could perhaps save millions of dollars every year.

Stay tuned for the results of the test.

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