Since 1854 • Bay St. Louis, MISSISSIPPI

Mrs. Boudreaux’s Adventure – Day 4

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Aside from boarding the ship on Monday, today has been my favorite day by far!  We launched the ROVs around 8 am for a 12-hour dive.  The primary focus was to explore the biology in deeper areas of the Sanctuary that haven’t been explored before, with emphasis on deep sea corals.  We also collected numerous biological and geological samples of interest for further study.

I was in the control van the entire day, except to eat.  The control van is my favorite place on the ship.  That’s where all of the magic happens.  I wasn’t able to get on a head set until the 4 – 8 watch, but when I did I talked specifically about Saint Stanislaus and our program and chimed in on biological stuff when I could.  I loved being in that van and seeing how the telepresence actually works, seeing/hearing how decisions are made on where to explore, and just listening to everyone share their stories and expertise.  If you couldn’t find me on the ship, I was in the control van.

Control Van - exterior

This is what the control van looks like from the outside, on the top deck of the ship. It consists of two cargo containers joined together.

Control Van Interior 1

Inside of the control van. Specifically where the ROV pilots and Nav sit.

Control Van - Interior 2

Inside the control van where the scientists and data loggers sit.

Some of the coolest moments from the control van are when Dr. Ballard brings you fresh baked snacks and when he chimes in on what we are seeing on the sea floor.  He still gets excited about exploring!!  A cool, unexpected moment was when we found piles of old ammunition scattered along the bottom.  There was a moment when everyone thought we might discover something significant associated with these piles….turns out, we believe it was an old dumping ground for the military.

One of my favorite experiences was being able to help process the biological samples that the ROV collected from the sea floor.  We had to collect as much data on each specimen as possible, including external observations, method of collection (grab or slurp), size, and photographic records.  We also had to separate the samples between the two museums that will further analyze, catalog, ID and genetically test them.  It took us about 4 hours to process all of the bio, and then another hour to process the water samples.  The process started as soon as the Hercules ROV was secured on deck, which was around 8 pm, PT.  I didn’t leave the wet lab from processing until 12:30 am, PT.  As a biologist, I wouldn’t have it any other way.   It was a blast and was a great opportunity to share.  If you were watching the quad view, you saw our entire process in the wet lab.

Herc

Recovering the samples from the Herc.

Lab work 1 Lab work 2
A couple of screen shots taken of us working in the lab last night.

Squat lobster

A tiny squat lobster in the lab being processed.

Another cool moment was seeing this:

Coffee Mug

An example of what happens when objects are exposed to the intense pressure at depth. The thermos on the left was attached to Argus prior to deployment this morning.

I have posted more pictures on Facebook and I have more that I will share upon my return.  I hope you have enjoyed the experience along side me, even if I wasn’t able to communicate with you directly while you were watching.  The ROVs will be back in the water exploring the USS Independence again tomorrow afternoon.

-Mrs. B