Buoy wonder


We could all use some good news these days. The constant sniping on social media, SOME OF IT IN ALL CAPS, can get tiresome.

But we offer you some proof that people really do enjoy good news. Two weeks ago, we had the chance to sit down and talk with Quinlan Slavin about his summer find in the Tisbury Great Pond, and it was delightful.

Think of him as the antidote to the barrage of Alan Dershowitz “news.” We’re ready to move on, and Quinlan helped give us a story we could embrace.

It’s not the type of story that’s going to get a lot of comments on our website, and it’s unlikely to generate Letters to the Editor, but it has gotten some nice attention on social media.

Not to get too deep in the weeds about analytics, but this story reached about twice as many readers as one of our typical Facebook posts. (Weather posts, especially violent weather of the nor’easter variety, are always off the charts. People love weather stories.) But we were pleased to see this good-news story do so well, too.

To refresh: Quinlan, 11, and his much older cousin, Raymond Muldaur, 56, saw a yellow object bobbing in the water as they were sailing June 30 in the pond. They steered clear because the site is also the location where the Army Corps of Engineers continues its search for unexploded ordnance on the Island, from training that occurred when the Island was home to a U.S. Navy base. (Smart move.)

Later, Quinlan took a closer — and still cautious — look at the object in the water and saw it had a plaque on the side that urged anyone who found it to call Cornell University, with the number provided. (He also told us he was doubtful the military would paint a bomb bright yellow.) His cousin called the number, and found out it was a Marine Autonomous Recording Unit and there was valuable data gathered on it for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about how whales, particularly endangered right whales, navigate our waters.

The buoy broke free of its tether before it could be retrieved. While NOAA has satellite positioning devices on the buoys, it’s not always convenient for them to drop everything and go out and pick up one of these buoys that’s being moved around aimlessly by the tidal flow. It can be a little bit like finding a needle in a haystack. (The buoy circled Nantucket numerous times before Quinlan and his cousin spotted it, according the global positioning data NOAA provided to Quinlan.)

So thanks, Quinlan, for saving this expensive piece of government research property. And thanks for sharing your story with us and our readers.

It was a bright light, and a nice reprieve from some of the other stories that dominate the headlines. SOMETHING WORTH YELLING ABOUT!