[editor's note, by Jason] Jon Warrenchuk is currently participating in NOAA's 2004 Gulf of Alaska Seamount Expedition.
AUGUST 3, 2004: Forget all this science. The real reason we're here is to squish Styrofoam cups! It's so cool! You take a standard Styrofoam coffee cup, decorate it with artistic license (mine had a "Jaws" theme), and stick it in a mesh bag tied to the sub. As the sub descends the air spaces in the Styrofoam get compressed and you're left with a much SMALLER Styrofoam cup! It makes a great souvenir.
Today Catalina Martinez, the expedition coordinator, gets to take a trip in Alvin. It's an exciting day for her. She has organized these expeditions for NOAA's Office of Exploration for 4 years, and today will be her first ever dive. They'll descend 2700 meters to the base of Denson Seamount. The launch is only slightly delayed, and off they go.
While on the bottom, they answered live questions from students in a middle school in Rhode Island, only 2700 meters up and a continent east away. This is the result of a satellite phone call, arranged by their teacher Carey Delauder, who joined the expedition as an "educator-at-sea". Her students are from an Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program and it's a neat way for kids to learn about the deep sea.
After she climbs out of the sub at the end of the dive, Catalina is greeted with water balloons and buckets of water. The veterans tell us this is tradition after your first dive. Sploosh! Welcome back!