Wirewalker Profiler

Del Mar Oceanographic’s wave-powered profiling system

DMO WIrewalker vertical image

Key Features:

  • Rapid Vertical Profiling – Powered by Ocean waves
  • Standard 300 m depth profiling – available up to 1000 m
  • Deploy with any RBRconcerto3 or RBRmaestro3
  • Custom sensor configuration
  • Moored and drifting deployments possible
  • System designed for efficiency and ease-of-use
  • Up to 16 Hz profiling data to the surface

The Del Mar Oceanographic (DMO) Wirewalker is a vertically profiling instrument-platform powered by ocean waves. Through the Wirewalker’s rapid profiling and ability to integrate a wide variety of sensor payloads, it brings new life to typical one-dimensional sensor time-series as a 2-D depth-time image where an enormous increase in information and intuition is achieved.

Attached to a free-drifting or moored buoy, the Wirewalker ratchets downward along a suspension wire under wave power. At a predetermined depth (up to ~1000 m), the ratchet releases. The profiler then scends at its terminal velocity (~0.5 m/s), completely decoupled from sea-surface motion. A very clean data record is obtained to within 1 meter of the sea surface.

The DMO Wirewalker Profiling System consists of four primary components.

Surface buoy

The surface buoy’s primary function is to harvest the energy from the surface wave field. The surface buoy also acts as a platform for real-time satellite GPS tracking of the Wirewalker’s position and can be equipped with a real-time telemetry system via Iridium or GSM.

Profiling wire

The Wirewalker profiler travels along a 3/16” jacketed profiling wire that links the surface buoy above, to the downweight below.

Wirewalker profiler

The profiling vehicle (the “Wirewalker”) consists of the instrument platform itself, including the cam mechanism that selectively engages the profiling wire when descending. The profiler houses a configurable set of oceanographic sensors as well as a configurable set of depth rated foam to set the positive buoyancy.


The downweight is suspended at the bottom of the jacketed profiling wire, just below the profiler’s lower turnaround point. Typically, two steel downweight plates totalling 90 lbs (40kg), is sufficient to ensure that the profiling wire maintains the tautness needed for proper profiling of the water column.


Surface Buoy
Dimensions 0.9 m Ø x 1.0 m
With 0.25m Ø well
Buoyancy* 275 kg
Weight* ~61 kg
Profiling Wire
Jacketed Wire Diameter 5mm nominal Ø
6.5mm jacketed OD ± 0.25mm
Breaking Strength 1814 kg
Weight (water) 0.0772 kg/m
Wirewalker Profiler
Dimensions 152.5 x 66.0 x 16.5 cm
Weight (air, no payload) ~25 kg
Downweight (x2)
Dimensions 61 x 20.3 x 2 cm
Weight 20kg
Wirewalker System
Payload Modular design accepts most oceanographic sensors
Profiling Rate 10 m/min (round trip) in most wave conditions;

0.3 – 0.5m/s ascent rate is typical

Max profiling depth 1000 m

*Fully assembled, not rated for depth

The Wirewalker is designed to be simple in operation, robust, and highly use-configurable. By transforming energy from the surface wave field to vehicle profiling motion, on-board batteries are used exclusively to power instrumentation.

The system’s free-ascend allows for the collection of high quality data from any fast-sampling oceanographic sensor and can provides data on conductivity, temperature and pressure observations, to optical, and ocean-current.

Optional Configurations

The DMO Wirewalker can be configured with up to ten channels of data, using either the RBRconcerto3 or RBRmaestro3 instruments. Add the RBRfermatabattery canister to extend deployments by a factor of 20 and provide power for inductive telemetry to the surface.

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About the Company

Del Mar Oceanographic (“DMO”) was established in 2015. Its roots go back much further, with the initial development of the Wirewalker, a wave-powered vertical profiling system developed by the Ocean Physics Group, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla CA. Following years of development and field testing, the Wirewalker is now produced commercially by DMO under exclusive license from the University of California.