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2004 Daily Log  

06/21/04 - Night fishing & last sub dives


Time: 10:12 pm  
Lat: 28° 00.7 min N
Long: 80° 03.4 min W

dip nettingAfter sending last night's log we went out to the stern to "nightlight." Essentially we shine very bright lights into the dark, night waters to attract fish, and then we use long-handled dip nets to catch whatever we can. We caught several interesting fish including a halfbeak, some jacks, and several myctophids (lantern fish).

myctophids, photo courtesy of NOAA
Myctophids from an ROV expedition in the Pacific Ocean
Photo courtesy of NOAA

As we worked we could see lightning in the distance. We knew a squall was visible on the radar, but decided to work as long as we could before it hit. Suddenly, the air temperature dropped several degrees, the wind picked up, and the plastic buckets on deck started sliding. We quickly put away our nets, tied down the gear and secured the lab. Almost immediately we were engulfed in the squall's lightning, wind, and rain. The seas sloshed over the side and washed across the deck. One bolt of lightning struck closely enough to knock out our satellite phone. After about an hour, things calmed back down.

This morning's dive found us at our most southerly site where we will end our mission. Ken Sulak went down in the bow and Cheryl Morrison in the stern. They gathered several samples of different types of corals, and also caught an interesting soft sea urchin that had a snail on it. It appeared that the snail was drilling into the urchin.

scientists pluck polyps from bamboo coral for aging studiesBetween dives we put out an otter trawl. It caught urchins, shrimp, and fish, but the most interesting catch was a large pink lobster with bright orange eggs. The front claws of the lobster were missing, so it was difficult to know exactly what she looked like with her claws, but she had very reduced eyes, and the rest of her body was pale pink. We will have to wait until we get back to a bigger library before we can identify her.

Steve Ross was in the bow and Martha Nizinski in the stern for the final dive of the mission. Even though we have been diving for 12 days, they returned with new specimens. There was a seastar we had not collected previously, a tiny hermit crab in a shell, a purple anemone, and several sea spiders. After photographing and preserving these new specimens we began breaking down the lab. Computers and printers went back in their cases, specimen jars went into boxes by type of specimen, we made copies of data sheets and we wrote a "quick look report". Before it got too late we had a final science team meeting and talked about the success of the mission. The night sky was once again filled with lightning, but so far it has stayed away.

Tomorrow we will finish the final packing. We plan to arrive in Ft. Pierce, Florida by 2:30 pm, just in time for several of us to jump on a shuttle to the airport to make our flights home. The crews from UNC-Wilmington and the USGS will drive back with their truck and trailer full of gear and specimens. We will leave with enough data, images, and videotapes to keep everyone busy for several years.

sub coming up at the end of a diveIt has been a highly successful mission. We covered more than 1,200 nautical miles (2,222 km), participated in 24 submersible dives, shot more than 56 hours of underwater videotape, and collected several hundred samples. Not only will we be working on the data immediately, we will begin to find new collaborative projects for the future.


06/21/04 - No Data

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