MANCHESTER, Wash. -- Terry Daniels never thought what he calls "a pink torpedo" would wash ashore in front of his house. "I was super-shocked," he said. "I see that thing down there. I'm going to get right down there and see what that is." The "pink torpedo" was actually a mini-submarine that had slipped away from scientists at the University of Washington. The $120,000 piece of equipment was lost at sea.
Thankfully, Daniels had heard the news. He remembered that UW's School of Oceanography was missing a research device in the Puget Sound waters. "I knew they were looking for this thing for four or five days, so I had to get down there to make sure it was the object that I saw on the TV," he said.
UW professor Charles Eriksen dropped the deep glider in the water at Shilshole Marina a week ago for a research project. The Internet-controlled drone is part of a new experimental technology used to measure water temperature and the climate. The information it gathers can ultimately help scientists understand global warming. A boat accidentally hit the glider off the shores of Golden Gardens and broke the antenna, causing water to leak inside. Eriksen said he began worrying when he lost communication. "If you just lose it and never get it back, you never know what went wrong," he said. Crews searched for the device via helicopter for eight hours, and in the water for four days but had no luck. Until Daniels called.
"I said, 'I found your pink torpedo on our beach here,'" said Daniels. The call was the answer to Eriksen's prayers. "I'm delighted," he said. "We thought it was lost. Anytime you put something in the sea, there is a chance you won't get it back, particularly things that are free-swimming."
The glider is now back in the lab after surviving eight days lost at sea. It does have some damage to the outside, but the computer survived and will allow researchers to determine exactly what happened.
The professor says that from now on, the school will launch the deep glider in areas where boats won't hit it.