Safer swims

Univer­sity stu­dent rais­ing funds to study rip­tides in P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - MITCHELL MAC­DON­ALD

A Univer­sity of Wind­sor stu­dent is hop­ing her re­search on P.E.I.’s north shore this sum­mer will help make the beaches safer across the world.

Sum­mer Lock­nick, a master of earth sci­ence stu­dent, will spend the next six months re­search­ing the be­hav­iour of beach­go­ers who fre­quent the pop­u­lar Cavendish and Brack­ley beaches.

As part of the re­search, she’ll be spend­ing July in P.E.I. to look at the re­la­tion­ship be­tween beach­go­ers and rip cur­rents.

Lock­nick said her re­search is not look­ing at how rip cur­rents are formed but rather why peo­ple use the beach at cer­tain times and why they en­ter the wa­ter.

“We want to un­der­stand what makes peo­ple go into the wa­ter” said Lock­nick in a phone in­ter­view from Bri­tish Columbia. “We want to look at be­hav­iour… right now, about 80 per cent of drown­ings and res­cues are caused by rip cur­rents.”

She noted both Cavendish and Brack­ley are known for rip cur­rents near the main ac­cess points, and de­spite warn­ing flags and a life­guard pro­gram there have been sev­eral drown­ings in re­cent years. Lock­nick hopes to change this. Although her re­search is tak­ing place in P.E.I., she hopes it will ul­ti­mately be used to help re­duce the over­all num­ber of drown­ings around the world, pos­si­bly through new man­age­ment strate­gies and ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial, sig­nage and warn­ing sys­tems.

“When you ar­rive at (Brack­ley) Beach, you want to go straight to the wa­ter, so you might not even see the signs where they’re at now,” said Lock­nick, who re­searched rip cur­rents for three years while com­plet­ing her bach­e­lor of en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies de­gree.

She was pre­vi­ously in the prov­ince last Novem­ber to re­search rip cur­rents un­der the su­per­vi­sion of Chris Houser, the dean of sci­ence at the Univer­sity of Wind­sor. Houser, a coastal ge­o­mor­phol­o­gist, was also a guest speaker on a rip cur­rent pre­sen­ta­tion held in P.E.I. last year.

Dur­ing her month in P.E.I. this sum­mer, she will use drones and cam­eras to re­search con­di­tions, weather and where beach-goers are si­t­u­ated, in­clud­ing how close they are to life­guard tow­ers and other groups of peo­ple.

She will also be sur­vey­ing beach­go­ers to study the so­cial in­flu­ences that may con­trib­ute to drown­ings and col­lect data to bet­ter un­der­stand what peo­ple know about rip cur­rent haz­ards.

How­ever, to do the work, Lock­nick also needs some sup­port.

A Kick­starter cam­paign has raised more than half of its $6,000 goal. The project will only be funded if it reaches its en­tire goal by Mon­day, June 17.

The re­search is also be­ing sup­ported by the fed­er­ally-funded grant­ing agency Ma­rine En­vi­ron­men­tal Ob­ser­va­tion Pre­dic­tion and Re­sponse Network through a pro­gram called the Fathom Fund.

The pro­gram will quadru­ple ev­ery dol­lar do­nated to Lock­nick’s Kick­starter, mean­ing the suc­cess­ful Kick­starter cam­paign would ul­ti­mately bring the to­tal to $24,000.

The method blends crowd­fund­ing with tra­di­tional re­search grants so the pub­lic can choose which ma­rine re­search ideas be­come funded projects.

“It’s nice with the pro­gram be­cause the donors are the ones who de­cide which projects get off the ground, so ul­ti­mately it’s the pub­lic that’s sup­port­ing me,” said Lock­nick.

The re­search is also be­ing sup­ported by Parks Canada and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by con­tact­ing Lock­nick at lock­[email protected]­


Univer­sity of Wind­sor masters stu­dents, from left, Sum­mer Lock­nick, Bri­anna Lu­nardi and PhD stu­dent Phil Wer­nette set up a drone to look over a sur­vey field in Cavendish last Novem­ber. While Lu­nardi and Wer­nette were re­search­ing dune veg­e­ta­tion, Lock­nick was re­search­ing rip cur­rents. She will be in P.E.I. again this sum­mer to look at the con­nec­tions be­tween beach­goer be­hav­iour and rip cur­rent haz­ards.


Univer­sity of Wind­sor stu­dent Sum­mer Lock­nick takes notes of where rip cur­rents form, as well are where safety signs are lo­cated, while at Cavendish Beach last Novem­ber. Lock­nick, a master of earth Sci­ence stu­dent, will be spend­ing July in P.E.I. to re­search the con­nec­tion be­tween beach­goer be­hav­iour and rip cur­rent haz­ards.

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