August 15, 2004: We're sinking! But don't worry, I'm in Woods Holes' famous Alvin submarine, and sinking is exactly what it's designed to do.
We're descending 3/4 of a mile beneath the sea to a rocky slope on Pratt Seamount in the Gulf of Alaska. Our pilot is Bruce Strickrott, an experienced sub pilot with over 150 dives under his belt. Crammed into the starboard is Peter Etnoyer of Aquanautix, and yours truly, Jon Warrenchuk of Oceana is on the port side.
The trip to the bottom will take about 45 minutes, so there's time to listen to music and wonder at the bioluminescent plankton. Unfortunately, we didn't bring Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which would have been absolutely perfect for the occasion. My sub-mates try to put on Rush, which I quickly kibosh, and we settle on some ambient house music.
I stare out the porthole, hoping for a glimpse of a sperm whale or giant squid or something equally rare and undocumented. I don't see any, but nonetheless, the bioluminescent jellyfish, salps, and marine snow drifting past the porthole are interesting to watch.
When the seafloor looms into sight, it's very surreal. Here we are, on the bottom of the ocean, millions of tons of water pressing down above us, and I'm wearing my favorite bedroom slippers. Bruce takes a moment to make a few calibrations and then we're off, cruising upslope in a search for deep-sea corals for the biologists and pillow basalts for the geologists.
- Staff Spotlight: Jackie Savitz Posted Mon, July 28, 2014
- Ocean News: Great Barrier Reef Will be “Pretty Ugly” by 2050, Sea Turtle Nests Down in South Carolina, and More Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- Ocean News: Cape Cod Embraces Shark Spottings, Rare White Southern Right Whale Calf Spotted off Australia, and More Posted Tue, July 29, 2014
- Eleven Florida Lawmakers Urge President Obama to Reconsider Approval for Seismic Airgun Testing Posted Wed, July 23, 2014
- No-Take Zones in Belize Could Rebuild Conch, Lobster, and Grouper Populations Posted Tue, July 29, 2014