First Mid-East Cabled Seabed Observatory Lou Tapscott, founder of Lighthouse R & D Enterprises, has for four decades been mystified by the ocean. From diver to CEO, Tapscott has been involved with and intrigued by the mysteries of the sea. His thirst for knowledge has forged a quest to better understand current direction, eddies and earthquakes and the potential impact of such ocean phenomena. Lighthouse's flagship project is L.O.R.I. (Lighthouse Oceans Research Initiative), which has its primary installation off the coast of Oman. Through his earlier work in the Gulf of Mexico with one of Deep Star's projects, Met Ocean, Tapscott became aware of the importance of loop currents in the Gulf of Mexico. With a vision of the potential impact globally of such patterns in deeper water, Tapscott continued research in the field, and the Gulf of Oman is one area that revealed a major loop current. With the interest and support of Oman's Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, in 2005 Lighthouse completed Phases I and II of the L.O.R.I. program in Oman As a result of its position at the northern margin of the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman is a dynamic marine environment driven by the seasonal extremes of regional monsoon events. Aside from environmental perturbations, the Arabian Gulf is subject to real and potential pollution from the heavy traffic of large oil tankers entering and leaving the Arabian Gulf (Figure 1). Ballast water discharges, spills, and other effluents associated with such traffic are a continuing concern of Oman, whose pristine Batinah coast is under development as a national resource for underutilized fisheries and an emerging recreational industry exploiting sport fishing, diving, and other tourist attractions. The Sultanate of Oman has a vital interest in preserving and protecting the coast. A recent deployment of oceanographic sensors is providing essential data necessary for monitoring existing conditions as well as providing the basis for prediction of environmental impacts in the event of an accidental release of substances, which might threaten the coastal habitat. The global oceanographic community is mobilizing and planning instrumented seabed arrays to monitor ocean parameters through cabled instrument strings reporting to a coastal station where data are fed to researchers. Several such links are in place in Canada, the Pacific (Hawaii), Japan, the east coast of the U.S. and elsewhere. The European community plans for extensive observatories under the ESONET program where more than 11 countries will share marine data. In the past year, the Sultanate of Oman's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has fielded an array of instruments to record current speed and direction, temperature, salinity, oxygen, and turbidity (Figure 2), leading the way to a Middle-Eastern data collection system in a vital region not yet studied in detail. The Sultanate of Oman's Marine Science and Fisheries Center has emerged as the leader in oceanographic studies of the northern Arabian Sea through its four offshore sites, which record on an hourly basis. Data are collected onshore and forwarded to the Oman Marine Science and Fisheries Center January 2007 Figure 1. Gulf of Oman, Strait of Hormuz and Arabian Gulf commercial traffic pattern. The Strait and the Gulf exhibit one of the highest densities of oil and gas shipping in the world. South-bound traffic exiting the Arabian Gulf oil fields pass near the cabled seabed array. 34 MTR
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