Ben Oostdam story # 29


invented the BONGONET !

In 1962, when we were surveying the beaches of Hawaii , we wanted to get some information about the plankton in the coastal waters and lagoons. Since I had the reputation to come up with cheap sampling gear (e.g. pipe-dredge, current-cross) and we could not afford the expense and waiting time for special oceanographic gear, I was to construct a plankton-net.

panty-hose plankton net

Welcome to Our Plankton Page

The Plankton Net
Make a Net

Educator's Cheapbook - Plankton Net

BLO fecit 20031229
I asked Ann for an old nylon stocking and a coat hanger. I cut of the toe and used a hose clamp to attach a vial at the "cod" end of the stocking, in which to collect and concentrate the plankton. We would tow this assemblage for a known time or distance, and calculate the amount of water in the cylinder of water (cross-sectional area of mouth of net x distance towed). That's how we could roughly calculate the plankton concentration (weight of plankton collected divided by volume of water). More interesting but very time-consuming was the identification and "count" of species using a binocular microscope and a counting register. Anyhow, since Ann - by now a kama'aina, or "old-timer" native - barely wore stockings, and our net wore out fast, we had to take recourse to other wahines, especially those malahini, or newcomers from the mainland who were aching for some adventure with beach boys. They thought we had a strange fetish, asking for old stockings instead of items of Victoria's Secret underwear.
And so it came about that one day, when I respectfully asked my "date" for one of her old stockings, the girl confronted me with a set of panty-hose . . . and I won't forget the look on her face when I held them spread out and looked disappointed instead of happy.
I first decided to cut her it in half, but then I struck on the idea to bend a coathanger in a figure eight shape and tape, clamp or sew the upper part of the pantyhose around it.
It worked reasonably well, with a main towing cord attached to the place where the wire "crotched" (not just crossed) and two "stays" to the sides for towing stability.
One can imagine my surprise years later when an oceanographic equipment company marketed their (very expensive, a la Neiman Marcus ??) "BONGO-NET".
My first thought was "where would one find such a giant woman?"


Sea-Gear Corp.

Ocean Instruments Bongo Net

Dec.29, 2003: search google for images: "Bongo Net": about 81 images