Submersible Dives Begin
June 25, 2002
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
At 7:00 am on Monday June 24, 2002, Monitor and US Navy personnel boarded the vessel Emmanuel and headed to the sanctuary. They were to rendezvous with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) Research Vessel (R/V) Seward Johnson. Once aboard the R/V, sanctuary staff joined HBOI researchers for three dives to the Monitor wreck site. They used the occupied deep-sea submersible Johnson-Sea-Link II. The dives gave NOAA researchers a chance to document the site before sections of the armor belt and hull are removed to expose the turret for recovery.
This morning, the weather was picture perfect for launching the submersible. Visibility during the first dive was up to 100 feet. The conditions gave observers a chance to note that the wreck has continued to deteriorate as has been predicted. They also documented the huge debris field that must be removed before the hull and armor belt can be taken off. Divers in the submersible saw many examples of the marine life that has adopted the Monitor as its home, including Moray eels, grouper, a huge manta ray, large skate, amberjack, black sea bass, toad fish, octopi and a variety of sponges.
Once all six dives were complete and NOAA personnel headed back to shore, they had more than eight hours of video footage and more than 500 images of the wreck, all of which will help greatly with this years Expedition.
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