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A secret recording system left by the U.S. Navy in the Adriatic Sea was recovered by Croatian fisherman.
According to media reports, on 6 January the fishing boat Marian II caught the device that weighed in at 220 pounds in its net.
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Navy paid damages to get the device back
With no clue what it was the fisherman posted it on a local media site which decided to investigate. The fisherman was eventually contacted by the U.S. Navy who asked for the device back. After the U.S. Navy agreed to compensate the fisherman for the damage to the net, the device was returned.
Turns out the device, according to Naval analyst H.I. Sutton is identical to the Navy's EARS sensor system. Sutton found an old tweet from 2014 that got zero in the way of attention that showed a device that was identical to the fisherman's discovery with the label EARS.
#USNSMarySears: Late afternoon EARS buoy recovery. pic.twitter.com/ECFHPoAMZN— NAVOCEANO (@NAVOCEANO_SSC) July 18, 2014
EARS used to record sounds
EARS stands for Environmental Acoustic Recording System. According to Sutton it was originally deployed in the early part of the 2000s and could record sounds for as long as one year.
According to Popular Mechanics, the navy uses EARS to home in on noises that aren't commonly heard undersea. They are designed to sit on the ocean floor and then separate from the anchor and float to the surface once the Navy sends a coded signal, noted Popular Mechanics.