Drifters are buoy-like instruments that float at the surface of the ocean and transmit their location data to satellites as they drift with the currents to provide scientists with information about how water moves. Researchers at the University of Miami spent two years testing various structures and materials before finalizing the new CARTHE drifter design, which is the first environmentally friendly drifter made from 85 percent seawater biodegradable components. The CARTHE drifter design benefited from recent advances in biochemistry by using new biodegradable and non-toxic thermoplastics known as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHA products were a great fit for the drifter design since they are both readily available and meet the American Society for Testing of Materials (ASTM) standard for biodegradability in the marine environment. Additionally, PHAs being thermoplastics with strong mechanical properties similar to commonly used plastics fit the unique construction needs for the sacrificial oceanographic instruments.