SeaHorse is a moored, wave-powered profiler developed at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography. It uses wave energy and a one-way clamp to climb down a mooring line. Once at the bottom, it waits for a user-defined time when the clamp opens and the buoyant device floats back up the line. Sensors are turned on during the ascent to provide detailed, rapidly-repeating data profiles over extended periods. Some of the water properties typically measured with SeaHorse are salinity, temperature, chlorophyll (which is a measure of phytoplankton growth), oxygen, turbidity (sediment in the water), and light level.

SeaHorse meets the need for regular, detailed profiling of key oceanographic parameters without the need for repeated visits from a ship. The mooring can be left at a remote location for months to automatically profile the water column at regular intervals, unattended. Ship time is only needed for the deployment and recovery.

The SeaHorse moored profiler is one of the sampling tools used as part of the Atlantic Zonal Monitoring Program (AZMP), providing bi-hourly profiles to 80 m from a location 25 km off the coast from Halifax in 150 m depth. Referred to as Station 2 of the Halifax Line, this location is considered representative of the Scotian shelf, and monitoring here provides insight into the short and long term variability in physical and biological processes on the shelf.

A system for real time telemetry of SeaHorse data has recently been developed. Data from the scientific instruments mounted on the SeaHorse profiler are transmitted up the mooring cable to the surface buoy, using SeaBird inductive modems. The data are then transmitted ashore using a 2-way Iridium satellite system, automatically processed at BIO, and then posted on the web.

SeaHorse is patented by the Government of Canada, and is currently being manufactured, under license from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, by ODIM-Brooke Ocean (Rolls-Royce) Ltd. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

A Seahorse buoy being deployed.
A Seahorse buoy being deployed.
A Seahorse buoy (left) with profiler (right).
A Seahorse buoy (left) with profiler (right).
Interior of the Seahorse profiler.
Interior of the Seahorse profiler.

Deployment Data


  • Fowler, G. A., J. M. Hamilton, B. D. Beanlands, and A. R. Furlong, 1997. "A Wave-Powered Profiler for Long-Term Monitoring", in Oceans'97 MTS/IEEE Conference Proceedings, pp. 225-228
  • Petrie, B., B. J. Topliss, and D. G. Wright, 1987. "Coastal Upwelling and Eddy Development off Nova Scotia", J. Geophys. Res., 29, 12979 - 12991.
  • Hamilton, Jim, George Fowler and Brian Beanlands, Long-Term Monitoring with a Wave-Powered Profiler, in Sea Technology, March, 1999.



  • Jim Hamilton, Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, N. S.
  • Merle Pittman, Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, N. S.
  • Randy King, Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, N. S.