During the winter months, the New England Aquarium's aerial survey team shacks up in Fernandina Beach, Fl. Fernandina Beach is located on Amelia island off the Northeast coast of Florida. The airport our aerial survey team deploys from, McGill airport, is also located in Fernandina Beach.
For the past two years our team has called this beach house home. The house is transformed from a lovely vacation home into a field research station (many thanks to our landlord for allowing us to make these necessary modifications). We install a radio antenna on the back porch of our house which allows us to keep in contact with the plane throughout our survey area. We set up computer stations on the mezzanine balcony (commonly referred to as the 'control tower') and in the dinning room area. The clutter of laptops on the kitchen table more closely resembles a workstation than a place where we would gather to eat. As in most field stations there are more computers than there are people!
Contrary to popular belief, we do not live on the beach to work on our tans (although that is an advantage!). There are many other advantages for our team to be stationed on the water's edge. Our house is located in the middle latitude of our survey area. Our survey is weather dependant and where we are allows us to make weather calls from our back porch. We can walk out in the morning, look north, east and south to determine whether conditions are suitable for us to fly. Our survey is conducted from an altitude of 1000 ft. Sometimes we have what is known as a low ceiling - which can be fog or low clouds that inhibit us from seeing the ocean from survey altitude.
Weather conditions can change drastically from ocean to land. The combination of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) weather buoy readings and visual assessments from the beach allow us to make the best assessment of weather conditions in our survey area.
1) Front of the field research station.
2) Rear of the field research station.
3) The kitchen table cluttered with laptops.
4) View from the kitchen table looking up at the 'control tower'.