Engineer Geoff Anderson of the Neeskay, UWM’s research vessel, gets the Bradford Beach buoy ready to board the vessel before its deployment. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
Neeskay captain Greg Stamatelakys (front) and mate/engineer Geoff Anderson lift the buoy onto the research vessel. The two men operate the only research vessel that explores these inland seas year-round. The Neeskay helps the crew, scientists and students at UWM to study the life and health of Lake Michigan. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
Postdoctoral fellow Lucas Beversdorf (right) and engineer Geoff Anderson secure the buoy at the School of Freshwater Sciences before the vessel launches. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
The Neeskay with the buoy aboard begins its journey to the Bradford Beach shore. Neeskay's research capabilities include a full range of wet and dry lab facilities for chemical, physical, biological and geological sampling and analysis. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
Assistant professor Matthew Smith (from left), postdoctoral fellow Lucas Beversdorf and associate professor Todd Miller take a look at the coordinates for the deployment of the buoy and view the route the captain chose because of the fog. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
The researchers attach the buoy to a pulley to lift it off the boat and into Lake Michigan. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
The researchers attach chains and ropes to deploy the buoy. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
With the buoy in the water, researchers nudge it away from the Neeskay. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
The Bradford Beach buoy transmits data about bacteria and weather conditions to an online database. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
Undaunted by the fog shrouding Lake Michigan, researchers from UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences sailed aboard the UWM research vessel Neeskay one recent morning to deploy a buoy a half-mile off Bradford Beach.
The buoy monitors conditions on the lake and is a key element in improving water quality warnings. It gathers information about bacteria, algae, temperature, wind and waves and transmits that info in real time to an online database. That allows officials to detect almost immediately when dangerous bacteria might be present and the beach should be closed.
Built by UWM researchers and launched for the first time last year, the buoy is a collaborative effort between the university and the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
Up-to-date data from the buoy can be viewed at the Bradford Buoy website.