08/20/03 - Media Tour
We awoke to beautiful skies and wonderful flat seas. Just perfect for the media tour! We were excited to share our mission with representatives from many media outlets including UNC-TV, the Wilmington Star, Wildlife in North Carolina, SeaGrant, NOAA and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Art Howard, our High Definition videographer was also due to join us with the media group.
The last plankton net went in the water about 5:30 a.m. and we steamed back to the location for the first dive. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that our media group was arriving earlier than expected. They were able to watch the sub launch from the water and then get on board. They had a chance to see the bridge and the computer used to track the sub. Then they got to visit the "van" (which is like a huge storage shed with power and computers) where the ROV pilot sits to work the ROV. After learning about the ROV dive on the Snowy Wreck they had a chance to see the ROV up close.
Next our guests visited the dry lab, where we do all of the computer work, and the wet lab, where we handle all of the specimens. The different scientists on board explained their research and brought out specimens to be photographed.
We watched the sub recovery from the deck and got to see the coral specimens that had been brought up from the bottom. We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch of Mexican food— our guests were quite impressed with the skills of the cook in the galley! During the last hour the media were able to get more information from the scientists and film some interviews.
After the media day ended, we steamed to our next dive site, only to discover that a fishing boat was right over the location. They planned to be fishing for the rest of the day, and it is not safe for us to put the sub in the water close to other vessels— especially if they have gear in the water. We chose to steam back to the site of our morning dive.
On the way back, one of the science team noticed a large mat of sargassum and asked if we could stop and dip net for a few moments. She then spotted a mahi mahi, or dolphin fish. Immediately a line went in the water and the fish was caught and brought on board. It weighed about 21 pounds and was a beautiful green, yellow, and blue.
We also caught several buckets full of sargassum. Everyone pitched in and helped sort through the sample. We found several small file fish, a pipe fish, several species of tiny shrimp and an amazing silvery blue and white nudibranch that was about an inch long.
The afternoon dive focused on gathering additional HD video footage, so Art Howard was in the bow with the large High Definition camera. We are currently waiting for the sub to return and can't wait to see his footage from beneath the waves.
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