First on the agenda for the day was to pick up the mooring with the sediment trap attached. The sediment trap was previously deployed and has been collecting samples of particles suspended in the water column. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the whole production because I was required to go watch the safety video. However, the safety video was quite entertaining in itself. After that we had safety training, which consisted of me, and the few other people who have never been onboard ship before, putting on giant hypothermia-preventing safety suits. Otherwise known as gumby suits. Everyone else thought it was really funny. I got to spend a lot of time on deck today, which was nice but also unusual. I had never realized how many oil rigs there were in the Gulf of Mexico. No matter where you look you can always see a rig looming not so far in the distance, and usually there’s more than one in sight.
My work for the day consisted of cleaning filters that will be used on the Alvin dive tomorrow and learning how to download the CTD data. The filters are supposed to suck up any gunk that may be covering the corals, which will be useful to analyze when assessing the health of the coral community. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, depth, and is a relatively basic instrument. Although some models are more updated and take additional readings, the one onboard was made in 1973. It accompanies Alvin and takes readings of the surrounding water conditions, which I then download to the network once Alvin surfaces.
The biggest event of the day was the launching of Sentry to make its first run of the trip mapping seafloor bathymetry. After some delay Sentry was released around 5:30… only to be brought back onboard within an hour. There were problems with a humidity detector which could potentially mean a leak. However, everything has now been resolved and Sentry is being redeployed.
The second biggest event of the day was my Orgo test. As one of the WHOI people said, school work doesn’t stop once you’re on the ship. At least it’s over and out of my mind for now and I can focus on the cruise.
The plan for tomorrow, before the Sentry mishap, was to pick up Sentry at 6:00, deploy an elevator at 7:00, and make the first Alvin dive at 8:00. Things may change due to the late deployment of Sentry, though. From my understanding, we are placing a time lapse camera on the elevator that will take pictures and monitor the seafloor where it lands for about three months until it’s picked up again. Chuck Fisher and Mike deGruy will be the first to dive in Alvin tomorrow. They will mostly be filming, Mike for TV and Chuck for science purposes and checking the functionality of apparatuses, so there won’t be many samples coming back. I’m excited to see Alvin dive!!