The following products are available via the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation. To get involved, just email or call us: Erin at GoMLF (207-205-8088,

Standard Surface Drifter

The “surface drifter” was first introduced to the oceanographic community by Russ Davis (USC) in the early 1980’s and has remained the standard for tracking surface flows in the ocean. Beginning in 2003, we have developed a low-cost version of this configuration. Built primarily by students at various schools, the drifter has evolved over the years to be easier to build, less-costly, and involve much less plastic. The most recent version, called the “Irina”, consist of a 1″ square aluminum pipe mast supporting a transmitter, set of 4 canvas cloth sails (19” by 36” each, see photo), and net-buoy flotation collar. The sails are held in place by a set of four aluminum spars (3/16” x 48”). The unit can be assembled on deck in 10-15 minutes each. While these units do not survive multiple years as in the case of commercially available units, they do typically provide multiple months of tracks at a user-specified sampling rate (30 minutes to 1 day).

Standard Surface Drifter Kit 

For those willing to invest a few hours into building their own surface drifter, we supply the hard-to-find parts (transmitter, flotation) in the form of a “kit”. Along with instructions and shopping list of the other components (available at your local hardware or lumber yard), we supply the support to help you build your first unit as well as the data access and website to track your drifter. It is important that all surface drifters comply with the oceanographic standard as described above in the ready-to-assemble & deploy option.

Standard Drogued Drifter 

For those looking to track a deeper subsurface current, we supply the drogue, tether, surface float, and tracker needed to do so. We follow the oceanographic standards in configuration to provide the 40-1 drag ratio spec as set by the World Ocean Circulation Experiment years ago. The tracker is mounted above standard lobster buoy which then supports a tether at a user-specified length down to the swivel, bridle, and drogue.

GPS-satellite Transmitter

For those looking to build their drifter from scratch according to oceanographic standards, we provide the tracker, the technical support, and the website tracking. The tracker is shipped pre-sealed, pre-provisioned, and, if needed, pre-programmed to user-specified sampling interval.

Satellite time

The GLOBALSTAR service-provider charges fees for:

  1. provisioning each unit ($30/each)
  2. annual maintenance fee ($30/each)
  3. fix ($0.15/each)

For example, if you plan to have your unit recording twice per day for 3 months, the fees amount to 30+2.45*3+2*30*3*0.15 = $64.35