• Fisherfolk find ‘marine drone’ off Zambales

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    SUBIC, Zambales: An oceanographic instrument with United States of America (USA) markings was found by a group of fisherfolk from this town while fishing in the open sea, north of the disputed Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) in the West Philippine Sea.

    Romy Abastillas, a 55-year-old fisherman who returned with his six companions to Subic town on Saturday, described the marine instrument to be weighing about 35-40 kilos and was marked “Naval Oceanographic Office USA.”

    Abastillas said he and his fellow fisherfolk spotted the object last week and initially thought it to be just a toy floating on the water.

    The marine instrument, measuring about six feet in length and 10 inches in diameter, was turned over to the local police.

    On one side of the instrument can be found a telephone number and e-mail address of the US Naval Oceanographic Office. The marine instrument also bore the name of the manufacturer, Teledyne Webb Research.

    Teledyne Webb Research’s website www.webbsearch.com described the marine instrument as a Slocum Glider, a uniquely mobile network component capable of moving to specific locations and depths and occupying controlled spatial and temporal grids.

    It is driven in a saw-tooth vertical profile by variable buoyancy and moves both horizontally and vertically.

    The Slocum Glider was conceived by Douglas C. Webb and supported by Henry Stommel and others and named after Joshua Slocum, the first man to single-handedly sail around the world.

    The website further described it as having long-range and duration capabilities, making it ideally suited for subsurface sampling at the regional scale.

    The glider carries a wide variety of sensors and can be programmed to patrol for weeks at a time, surfacing to transmit data to shore while downloading new instructions at regular intervals, realizing substantial cost savings compared to traditional surface ships.

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