By A.J. Martignette, Marine Laboratory Manager
The River, Estuary, and Coastal Observation Network (RECON) was established by SCCF in 2007 to enhance the monitoring of water quality in the Caloosahatchee River and the surrounding estuary. RECON currently consists of seven water-quality sites and one offshore wave buoy. In 2012, three RECON sites were upgraded and equipped with weather stations. These stations were funded through Lee County by a grant from the West Coast Inland Navigation District.
They were the first local weather stations located directly on the water and were designed to give boaters accurate, near real-time, information on weather conditions.
Most of the RECON stations are set up on U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) channel markers with permits issued by the USCG for them. The use of channel markers provides SCCF with several advantages, such as significant cost savings over installing new pilings, and ease of obtaining a permit. They do, however, have one big disadvantage: Because they are navigational aids, vessels are constantly maneuvering in close proximity to them. Incidental collisions between passing vessels have happened on several occasions. The majority of these collisions result in significant damage or destruction to the channel marker, although most of the time, the RECON sensors have survived. Unfortunately, this was not the case at the Gulf of Mexico site early last year.