The long trip with the loggers

After over two years of planning and development, the Seabird Sound Infrasound loggers are off to the Southern Ocean. The loggers left France on 4th January, to join the Marion Dufresne in Réunion Island. After over a week at sea, sailing due South, they arrived on the Crozet Islands, in the French Sub-antarctic. Lying at 46 degrees South, Crozet is in one of the most remote, and windiest parts of the Earth. It is home to huge diversity of seabirds, and is particularly famous for its albatross and penguin colonies.

Our loggers will be deployed on Wandering Albatrosses, the largest albatross which can weigh up to 12kg and has a wing span of up to 3.5m. They can make foraging trips of up to 30 days and during their lifetime fly the equivalent distance to the moon and back 10 times.

Our logger, the ‘infrasound-sputnik’, has been designed as a low-cost mobile multidisciplinary measurement platform for geophysical monitoring. The platform is designed using digital Micro-electromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensors that are embedded on a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The MEMS sensors on the PCB are a GPS, a three-component accelerometer, a barometric pressure sensor, an anemometer, and a differential pressure sensor. A programmable microcontroller unit controls the sampling frequency of the sensors. A weather and waterproof casing is used to protect the mobile platform. The casing is created with a stereolithography (SLA) Formlabs 3D printer, using durable raisin.

Thanks to low power consumption, the system can be powered by a battery or solar panel. After thorough calibration and comparison with reference sensors, it is found that the selected MEMS sensors are in good agreement when compared to high-fidelity equipment. Moreover, there is good consistency between the individual MEMS sensors.

So what does all of this mean? Our loggers are able to accurately measure infrasound and offer the opportunity to collect measurements in parts of the world that are inaccessible to traditional equipment. This is an example of how albatrosses can collect at-sea data on a huge range of parameter, crucial across scientific disciplines.