Our team is really working like a well-oiled machine now. We selected a site on the south side of the island to avoid the choppy seas. Tom spent an entire day sifting through data to find a reasonable drop location with some solid relief. We did not expect to find caves on this dive, but were looking for evidence of ancient shoreline. We're doing the deepest manned dives ever conducted in Bermuda and this will give geologists, biologists and climatologists a first look at structure and life in the deep. I think of myself as the eyes of the science team on these dives.
Brian Kakuk and I were up for the mission, with Paul Heinerth standing by in full dress. Brett Gonzalez headed up the safety diving with Gil Nolan standing by as swimmer. We were also fortunate to have Marcus onboard handling some of the logistics of the drop and Alex Chequer in a fast boat on standby. Dr. Pete from the hyperbaric department was also assisting and fortunately only had to dispense a Band-Aid for Brian's cut knuckle. Nic Alvarado, representing NOAA, was documenting our dive and helping to keep stats.
After all my checks and donning my three bail tanks, I slipped off the transom and hit the downline. Brian joined me at 20 feet for a last check and we raced for the bottom. We landed around 215 feet and immediately saw signs of what we believe is ancient drowned reef. The rubbles were re-encrusted with new growth and the pockets in the reef were filled with lionfish, big eyes, Spanish hog fish and others. Form there we raced down a sand channel doing photo transects and stopped just beyond 310 feet. Our lateral distance was something around 300 feet. As we swam deeper, we left behind the ridgeline and were left with more staggered clumps of patch reef and a sandy sloping bottom. We found some sea cucumbers that were completely unfamiliar. They were a light color with red spots. They seemed very clown-like. We collected biological samples and photos all the way back up the ridge before hitting the upline. Brett met us on the deco line around 90 feet, right on schedule. The dive was very smooth and support crew was amazing as always.
Hopefully we'll have another stellar day tomorrow!