Surface Forces: Who Keeps Track of the Squids


November25, 2006: In the U.S. Navy, the METOC (meteorological and oceanographic) community is an odd bird. Everyone knows what the meteorology side does (predicts the weather), but the oceanography side is usually not understood at all. Aside from providing information on currents, water peculiarities (e.g., thermal layers, salinity, etc.), the oceanographers also keep track of marine life. Aside from environmental issues, marine life can affect sonars in interesting ways and offer other challenges. Ignoring the METOC officer can be risky. A few years ago a carrier passing through the Straights of Magellan was almost incapacitated by enormous schools of squid. These sea creatures were sucked into the water intakes in large quantities, nearly clogging them, which could have led to engine problems for want of coolant. Turned out the skipper had not consulted his staff METOC officer. The captain had passed the straits before with no problems, but didn't realize there were seasonal patterns to marine life that only the METOC was aware of. Only METOC keeps track of squid migrations.


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