08/05/02 - All aboard!
We got up early this morning (3:10 am!) so that we could meet at the dock at 3:30. The folks from the Wilmington crew departed from Wilmington at midnight in order to drive down in time! We got on board the Carolina Clipper, a 50-person fishing vessel, with all our gear and headed out just as the dawn began to break. It was still really dark as we navigated our way through the port in Charleston. The captain had to use the spotlight on the bow to look out for hazards in the water. The sea was very choppy with whitecaps and swells of about 3-5 feet. Many people found comfortable places to lean against duffel bags and sleep during the 8-hour trip out to meet the Seward Johnson.
We unloaded our gear, got some things stowed, and had a wonderful lunch of paella. Then we made our bunk beds, set up most of the computer equipment, and put together all of the trawls and nets. When everything was settled, we had a science team meeting and went over the goals of the trip: to document the ecosystems found along the slope off the coast of the Carolinas, with particular emphasis on the deep water coral banks. We will also have a commercial fishing vessel working near us so that we can compare what we find with our submarine and our nets to what they are catching with the commercial gear.
After a dinner of crab legs, we had our safety meeting. We all found our life jackets and learned what to do in case of man overboard, fire, or abandon ship. We were introduced to the "Gumby Suit," which is a survival suit you wear if we have to abandon ship. This bright orange rubber body suit keeps you warm, dry, and afloat. Even out here in the warm Gulf Stream, you can develop hypothermia if you are in the water too long. It is called a Gumby Suit because the gloves only have three fingers, much like the Gumby doll.
We are watching the weather closely. Apparently the low-pressure system just to our south has gained strength and is now a tropical depression. We hope it starts moving out to sea and does not interfere with our mission. We have just arrived at our first study site and are putting a trawl into the water. Waiting for the net to come up is much like waiting to open birthday presents. We can't wait to see what will come up in the net! What do you think we might find?
|Previous Log||Next Log|