Scientists are looking for a rogue seismometer floating somewhere off the coast of BC

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Scientists are asking for help to recover a seismometer that made an unauthorized trip to Hecate Strait, off the coast of Prince Rupert.  (Submitted by Andrew Schaeffer - image credit)

Researchers are putting out a call to help recover a piece of ocean technology that has traveled hundreds of kilometers from its station in the Pacific Ocean in BC.

The bright yellow 240-kilogram seismometer — a device that monitors vibrations from earthquakes beneath the ocean floor — went rogue on Nov. 20 after it “released itself” and began to float, according to Andrew Schaeffer of the Geological Survey of Canada.

His team is asking boaters to be on the lookout for the one-meter-wide “yellow donut” which, according to GPS readings, has traveled more than 460 kilometers from its original station near Vancouver Island and is now in a area of ​​Hecate Strait, off the coast of Prince Rupert.

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Schaeffer said there are only about 120 of the instruments available to serve the Halifax-based National Society for Seismological Investigations, which researches earthquake tectonics throughout the world’s oceans, seas and lakes.

That said, the organization is willing to pay a “reasonable fee” to anyone who helps recover the device – especially since researchers are worried that its battery will run out, causing them to lose all contact.

Because the device is so heavy, a possible rescue boat will need a winch or lifting boom to recover it.

Schaeffer said his team deployed 26 of the seismometers on BC’s west coast in October, marking the first time they have been used in the region. He described them as “complex instruments,” as another one was cut, though Queen Charlotte Sound acquired them earlier this year.

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Anyone on the water who may have seen the device is asked to contact Schaeffer at [email protected]