Backyard Buoys in the Pacific Islands

October 20, 2023

Majuro Buoy Deployment Team. Left to Right: Harold Tarkwon, Juddson Nelson, Junior Mark, Albers Alik, Jr., Andrew McInnis. Credit: Marshall Islands Conservation Society

On October 20th, 2023, members of the Marshall Islands Conservation Society (MICS) and the Ajeltake Community Development Association (ACDA) took a significant step towards community-led and community-stewarded ocean observing with the deployment of a new Spotter wave buoy. This is the first Spotter buoy to be deployed as part of the Backyard Buoys project in the Pacific Islands. Located in the main channel of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, this buoy provides near real-time information about wave height, direction, period, and water temperature. Boaz Lamdrik, incumbent Councilman from Ajeltake Village emphasized the importance of the buoy for his community, stating,”Maan japopo nan idrin,” which means, “(The buoy) helps us stay informed to avoid disasters.” His statement underscores the critical role information from the buoy will have in disaster preparedness and prevention.

The Backyard Buoys project brings together U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) regional associations from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Islands in a collaborative effort with Indigenous partners, ocean wave buoy developers, and educational entities to empower Indigenous and other coastal communities throughout the Pacific region to collect and use wave data that compliments their existing knowledge. PacIOOS provides support for the Backyard Buoys project in the Pacific Islands, partnering with the Marshall Islands Conservation Society, the National Park of American Samoa, University of Hawaiʻi SeaGrant, and Conservation International, Hawaiʻi. Funding for Backyard Buoys is provided by the National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator.

Interest in the Backyard Buoys project has been received from communities in Guam, The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), The Republic of Palau, Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia), and for more buoys in the RMI. PacIOOS is committed to building and strengthening relationships with new and existing partners throughout the Pacific Islands to better serve their needs for accessible ocean data.

Wave and water temperature data from the buoys deployed across the Pacific are available for free through a prototype smartphone app, and will soon be available on the PacIOOS website, and at A video tutorial with instructions on how to use the app and the data can be found below.