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Sonar equipment used to clean up Santa Cruz Harbor

March 18, 2011 6:52:50 PM PDT
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has used high tech side scan sonar equipment through the Santa Cruz Harbor to identify debris that could pose a threat to boaters once the harbor reopens.

Cmdr. Todd Haupt says, "This is an object detection tool so it's very good at finding where things are. Then we need to go back with better equipment to identify exact depth on it and how high and whether it's a real hazard to navigation."

Divers today from the Department of Fish and Game investigated two areas where the sonar picked up underwater navigation hazards. In one case, a dislodged dock box was found in the north Harbor and will be hauled out of the water. There was another area near the Harbor opening where a second object was identified but divers had trouble finding anything. By late morning, strong winds and heavy surf forced the Coast Guard and the Department of Fish and Game to cancel operations in the harbor.

It has now been one week since the tsunami surges triggered by the earthquake in Japan hit the Santa Cruz Harbor. The coast guard determined 13 boats sank, about 100 were damaged and an estimated $25 million damage was done to the piers, docks and harbor infrastructure.

Boat owner Homer Lighthall reflected on the event today saying "Boy, when you look at the stuff that happened in Japan, we got a lot to feel fortunate about."

The current storm system could delay the remaining clean up operations, but for now, the harbor is expected to open on Monday.


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