Frying Pan Shoal Tower, Cape Fear North Carolina

View Into The Blue collaborated with many groups and people for this amazing, larger than life, project funded by explore.org. Four cameras, two CleanSweep™self-cleaning underwater webcams and two above water cameras, were used in this project. One underwater webcam sits at 15 feet and a second at 55 feet below the surface, both attached with heavy duty, ruggedized clamping mounts to survive the hurricane force winds and powerful seas. One above water camera is located on the Frying Pan Tower 30 feet above the tower deck, 110 feet above the ocean looking out to the sea. The second above water camera is located on the Wilmington Tower over 1000 feet in the air. This live streaming video is made possible by a wireless link of over 60 miles from the Frying Pan Tower to the Tall Tower on land, and from here it is wirelessly linked another 20 miles on land to the Internet Gateway at the WWAY Wilmington TV Station.

Following are some fascinating details about the four cameras in this project:

The Shallow Underwater Camera, at 15 feet underwater, shows a variety of reef and open water-dwelling fishes – a strange combination for someone who is used to seeing the coral reefs of Florida and the Caribbean! This unique ecosystem is maintained by the shallow shoals that allow for coral and algae growth, as well as the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Being dozens of miles offshore and farther north than common reefs makes this region a fascinating location for ocean viewing. – Erin Cooper, Teens4Oceans

The Deep Water Underwater Camera, at 55 feet underwater, features many of the same species of fish, sharks, and rays, but provides a glimpse into a different habitat. With less light and more substrate to provide living spaces, prey species can hide from their predators down here. This is not always an option for open water dwellers, so fish take advantage of these features when passing through the shoals. – Erin Cooper, Teens4Oceans

The Frying Pan Tower above water camera overlooks the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. This camera gives us a bird’s eye view of the ocean surrounding Frying Pan Tower. When weather moves in, you’ll see a swift change in the waves and want to watch the storm roll through. On other days, the sunrise, sunset, and expansive clouds on the horizon will be dramatic highlights to your day. Groups travel to Frying Pan regularly for dive trips, volunteer restoration work, and vacation. Travel to the tower happens by boat or by helicopter, with the helicopters landing on the observation deck in view. How do people get to the observation deck from a boat? They are raised on an automated pulley system with a seat for the guest. – Erin Cooper, Teens4Oceans

The Tall Tower (land side) above water camera
is located 25 miles inland from Cape Fear, North Carolina, more than 1000 feet in the air, giving us a bird’s eye view of the nearest land to Frying Pan Tower and also serves as the land-based hub for the Frying Pan camera network. Below the tower you’ll see the rich forest North Carolina that grows so lush thanks to the region’s temperate climate. The forest is occasionally blocked by low, dense cloud cover, but a view toward the horizon will show the sun peeking through the cloud layers above. Over time, this camera will gather useful imagery of seasonal changes in the Wilmington area. – Erin Cooper, Teens4Oceans

Explore.org was created and is led by Foundation Vice President and Director Charles Annenberg Weingarten, explore is a multimedia organization that documents nonprofits around the world and extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, explore.org creates a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others. – explore.org website

Check out this link to learn more about explore.org and their amazing work:
image credit – Dr. Erin Burge

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