Backyard Buoys Summer 2023 Update

November 7, 2023

Michael Quuniq Donovan’s crew deploy a wave buoy near Utgiagvik. Photo by Lloyd Pikok

The Backyard Buoys project empowers Indigenous and other coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Pacific Islands to collect, steward, and use wave data that complements their existing knowledge. In Alaska, members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission choose where and how to deploy buoys in the Arctic so that hunters and other boaters can effectively use the data to inform safe navigation on the water. 

AOOS and partners reached several milestones with the project this summer. In August, whaling captains deployed a total of 13 wave buoys in Alaska’s Arctic. Michael Tuzloyruk placed three near Point Hope, John Hopson Jr. positioned three near Wainwright, and Michael Quuniq Donovan deployed seven near Utqiagvik. 

The University of Washington collaborated with Indigenous partners to develop a Backyard Buoy app prototype that allows users to access real-time wave and temperature data from these buoys. 

This summer, AOOS also participated in education initiatives related to the Backyard Buoys project. Staff members facilitated wave and buoy activities for students at the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Career Exploration Week in Juneau, and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium Science Fair in Utqiagvik.

Watch Barrow whaling captain Michael Quuniq Donovan and team deploying wave buoy off Nuvuk in August 2023 Video by LLoyd Pikok Jr.
The Backyard Buoy app prototype shows wave buoys recently deployed in Alaska.

Source: AOOS