Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef Expedition 2012
Mission Information
 

Saturday: June 2, 2012
Log Day 3

Brittany Poirson
Graduate Student
Georgia Southern Universtiy

Invertebrate team (l to r), Brittany Poirson, Jamie Price, Risa Cohen, Danny Gleason and Christine Buckel.

Invertebrate team (l to r), Brittany Poirson, Jamie Price, Risa Cohen, Danny Gleason and Christine Buckel.
(Photo: Debbie Meeks)

Visibility finally cleared up enough for us to dive today! Although it has been fun adjusting to living on a boat, I'm glad we finally got into the water to collect data.

Our objectives on this trip are to identify and count invertebrates at different sites within the sanctuary using a 0.5X0.5m quadrat and underwater paper. We were hoping to visit as many sites as the invertebrate team visited last year, but so far, the weather has not been in our favor.

Brittany Poirson (c) reviews the use of camera-quadrat with Christine Buckel (l) Danny Gleason and James Price

Brittany Poirson (c) reviews the use of camera-quadrat with Christine Buckel (l) Danny Gleason and Jamie Price
(Photo: Debbie Meeks)

Since departing from Savannah on Wednesday afternoon we have been busy making our homes on the boat and getting our "sea legs". We have made three trips out on the small boats for diving, and had an equal amount of dives. The first day of diving was a wash. Our visibility was around one foot at the bottom, and we couldn't see any of the invertebrates that we were supposed to be identifying. We headed back to shore, took showers and spent the rest of the day working, reading, and playing cards. Today we had better luck. We made one dive this morning and one this afternoon. The winds and waves picked up considerably on our last dive, and a small craft advisory came into effect, so we came back to the ship a bit earlier than expected. We got invertebrate data for one site though, and I'm hopeful that the weather clears up in the next few days so that we can make our scheduled 4 daily dives and collect as much data on invertebrate assemblages as possible.

Georgia Southern team transporting to dive site.

Georgia Southern team transporting to dive site.
(Photo: Debbie Meeks)

It is amazing to see the operations on this ship. It is my first time aboard a boat larger than 70 feet, and the organization that it takes to run a boat of this magnitude is nothing short of incredible. For instance, watching the small boats deploy off of the side of the Nancy Foster is extremely interesting. One person operates a large crane that picks up the smaller boat like a basket. The boat is transported slowly off of the side of the Nancy Foster and four people man the lines to keep it from swinging too hard to port or starboard, bow or stern. Once the smaller boat is level with the deck of the Nancy Foster, the coxswain hops in and the boat is lowered to the sea (approximately 5-10 feet lower than the deck, depending on wave height). The divers are allowed to get in at this point, which is a challenge because the waves are acting differently on the large ship and the small dinghy. It is fun to watch, and I'm glad I'm on a boat with so many competent people.

Swells have currently picked up and sea conditions are treacherous for divers. I hope this weather passes and we can dive again tomorrow. In the meantime, I have data to enter into spreadsheets!

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