CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - If you're walking along the riverfront in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, you may notice a yellow buoy.
It looks kind of like a small boat floating near the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, but scientists ask that you not touch it.
That buoy, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, is part of a project to monitor water quality.
"This buoy allows us to monitor the water for oxygen, temperature, nutrients and clarity and collects data on wind and sunlight," said Molly Sobotka, MDC resource scientist. "All of this information helps us understand the water quality in the river, regional differences in river reaches and how sediments and nitrogen flow through the system."
Sobotka said data from the buoy will help scientists understand how major events like floods impact the river in real time.
"It takes hourly water quality and weather data and transmits it to the project server," she said. "By using the buoy, we can collect data during floods or storms when we would otherwise have trouble collecting it ourselves."
The project, called Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network, has an ultimate goal of establishing a network of identical water quality monitoring buoys in great rivers around the world.
According to MDC, the monitoring station is marked with reflective tape and lights for nighttime visibility. The monitoring equipment is fragile and difficult to replace and the scientists request that boaters, anglers and hunters avoid disturbing this equipment.