Can an “Intelligent” Surf Fin Help Researchers Study a Changing Ocean?

Science is awesome.

Hey surfers. Imagine if you could crush some waves and contribute to scientific research at the same time. A new California collaboration aims to make such an endeavor a reality with Smartfin, a device that measures temperature, motion, direction and acidity in real time. That info is then uploaded to the cloud via an app where it can be used by researchers to study how the oceans are changing, and how those changes will impact our coastal communities.

According to a story by Hatch-Mag in San Diego, “Capturing the dynamics of the surf zone, with all of its energy and wave activity, presents a unique challenge: You could put sensors on stationary objects like a pier, but there are a very limited number of those. Instead, researchers are able to collect spatial data from surfers using Smartfin up and down the coast, and even around the world.

“’Smartfin is a community-building effort to get people in the water and to understand the changing ocean conditions and ocean health,’ says Shannon Waters, the Smartfin project manager at Surfrider.”

The San Diego Surfrider Foundation, along with researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the surfboard manufacturer Future Fins, are testing the product with local surfers to see if the product has legs … or fins.

You can read more about Smartfin here.