Learning vessel

The Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is one of the supporting units for a new 27-foot, high-speed research vessel currently managed by Co-Chair of the Institute’s Coastal Center and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Professor Burkard Baschek.

The vessel, known as the Zodiac, is based in San Pedro and operated by the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI)—a consortium of 12 major universities in Southern California. UCLA became a member of SCMI in November 2010.

Zodiac is designed for coastal and oceanographic research for faculty and scientists in several different departments at UCLA. It will also be used for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

The vessel seats 10 and can travel 58 miles per hour on the water. It is fully equipped with state-of-the-art research equipment as well as GPS, compass, radio and high-speed internet communication.

Professor Burkard elaborated on the Zodaic’s features.

“It is a small and flexible research vessel ideally suited for coastal study. It is very fast, cost-efficient and outfitted with modern research and communication equipment—creating a very educational and fun experience for students.”

He continued, “It is essential for the students to get a "feeling" for the data, i.e. to judge what the limitations are, what a data set can tell and what it cannot. It helps to understand experimental errors and uncertainties. With the Zodiac students get a hands-on experience of field work, which is usually a rare and expensive opportunity.”

The Zodiac will be operational in spring 2011.