By Brian Cousin, FAU Harbor Branch
August 19, 2013
Yesterday, the start of our daily operations coincided with the first of several gnarly squalls to pass through our area. Undeterred, the team accomplished the usual day’s objectives, even when it seemed that each patch of bad weather chose to bluster through at the same time we set about performing tasks most dependent on better weather.
More than once, lightning chased us away from recovering the chevron fish traps. At a casual glance, the trap recovery system resembles a lightning rod and collector enough to warrant standing well clear during an electrical storm.
Once the traps were secured on the deck, the choppy sea conditions, rain and often gusty winds were deemed to be acceptable for launching the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). At least by Glenn Taylor’s estimation, because it was his turn to stay inside and pilot the vehicle while Lance Horn stayed out on the weather deck to tend to the tether that connects the vehicle to the ship. As the newest member of the ROV team, Jason White had no say in the matter and remained in his foul weather gear, safety vest and hardhat all day long, inside and out.
By sunset, we were treated to a rich red sky and placid sea surface that boded well for the MOCNESS plankton net tow and drifter deployment scheduled for after dark.
All in all, the science and technical crews maintained high spirits through the minor inconveniences posed by wind, rain and waterspouts. Cameras on the ROV captured video and still images of the seafloor. Fish traps and plankton nets collect living specimens for study. Drifters report current data from beneath the surface via satellite. All support the mission’s goal of characterizing the biological and physical characteristics of Pulley Ridge to help further illuminate the connectedness between the ridge and the reefs of the Florida Keys, and the biological processes that take place therein.
Even when the weather outside is frightful it can still be a good day at sea.