10/19/05 - Murray's first dive
The night shift located several likely dive sites so the first sub dive launched with great anticipation. Not only had we found what appeared to be good locations, it was also Murray Roberts’ first dive. Murray studies deep water corals in Scotland and has used ROVs and cameras to study Lophelia. He is very interested in finding out where and how Lophelia grows and in using some modeling to figure out why it grows where it does. He was thrilled to get a first-hand look at the deep water coral habitats in this area. After the dive, he talked about how naturalists who study things such as birds take it for granted that you can visit the habitat of the birds. If you are interested in seabirds you can visit one of their rookeries, or if you want to know more about songbirds you can go into the forest. But most deep sea researchers never have a chance to visit the habitat that they study. Very few people have ever been to the bottom of the ocean, and he feels quite privileged to have been there.
During the second dive, Liz Baird was in the bow and Andrea Quattrini in the stern. They returned to a very similar area with lots of live Lophelia, galatheid crabs, glass sponges, blackbelly rosefish, and conger eels. They collected a beautiful starfish as well as some crabs and coral samples. They came up just at sunset which made for a picture perfect recovery.
Tonight we are steaming south to our next location. We plan to arrive around midnight when we will do some night lighting. We put bright lights over the side of the ship and then use long handled nets to catch the things that come to the lights. This technique only works during really calm nights and tonight looks like a good one.
We have a satellite television on board and have been watching the forecast for Hurricane Wilma. The captain and lead scientist have been discussing plans, but will not make any firm decisions for a few days. It looks as if Wilma will not be in our area until early next week, and by then we will know more about her track and the port where we will seek refuge, if needed.
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