Exhibits promote marine life research and preservation

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Grading hurricane intensity, preserving wetlands and protecting marine life. Those were among the issues discussed at the annual Bays and Bayous symposium in Biloxi.

Browsing the exhibit hall at the coast convention center, we found all sorts of information about preserving and protecting the environment.

But what caught our attention was a large, circular stack of rocks in concrete.

"The way we keep it from sinking on the bottom and getting covered in sediment, is we drive a piling down and that piling has a stop on it. Then we stack as many layers as would be needed," said vendor Justin Stoufflet, who showed us how the artificial reefs are designed to attract and accommodate marine life and growth while also providing near shore erosion protection.

"We cover our surface area with a limestone rock from a quarry in Florida. And limestone works very well because it's soft. It's porous. It's easy for marine life to bore into," said Stoufflet or EcoSystems artificial reefs.

"They can also be used for shoreline protection. They can be used as wave attenuators to absorb the impact of waves," he explained.

Recording light waves is what another company is all about.

"This is a multi-spectral sensor," said Chad Leflore with Radiance Technologies, "It's a four camera sensor. It uses visible wave length channels and we can look at specific parts of colors; parts of green, blue, red and near infra red to pick out things in the ocean."

One practical application would be spotting whales. The Navy recently had problems with the marine mammals.

"Their sonar is damaging whales, sometimes killing them. And what we can do is put our sensor on a UAV and fly it out over the ocean and find all the whales that are out there, before the Navy begins their training exercise," said Leflore.

High tech whale spotting and rock solid reefs; just two of the unique exhibits at this year's Bays and Bayous conference.

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is the primary sponsor of the annual Bays and Bayous symposium.