The Beacon

Long Days on Deck to Measure the Plume

The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Latitude crew. Here’s the latest from Will Race on the ongoing experiment to measure the oil plume near the Deepwater Horizon:

Morning came fast on Monday. By 6:30 am the entire crew was on deck ready to deploy the first mooring. But instead of a beautiful sunrise, we were greeted by an unnerving thunder and lighting show.

Eight was the lucky number: The eight man crew successfully deployed eight moorings. The complete process, from the preparation of anchors and lines, to deploying the anchor, marking the line, and clipping on test strips went smoothly and efficiently.

The weather calmed down after the morning storm and was key to the efficiency of the day. For the first time during this leg of the trip, the Oceana team finally had the pleasure of setting the last mooring of the day to a breathtaking sunset.

 

Despite sore muscles and burnt faces reflecting three days of major mooring deployment, on Tuesday we were all on deck at 6:30 again and ready for more. The morning brought at sense of relief; knowing that it was the last day of mooring deployment raised everyone’s spirits.

After the last mooring was dropped, Oceana marine scientist, Kim Warner started mapping the water column by doing a CTD scan. Essentially, she used an electronic probe, hoisted and deployed below the sea surface, to send back signals to the ship from different depths. The signals mapped the water column and sea current and provided information on turbidity, temperature, and oxygen levels that will enhance the data collected from the test strips in Dr. Jeff Short's experiment.

The process was slow and steady, and the information was sent directly to our computer on board and will be analyzed upon the team's return to port.

Later in the day we headed back to where we first deployed moorings to retrieve test strips. We were excited to spot our first buoy, which was set in a shallow area around 100 meters and made for a good test run of retrieving. After 30 minutes of repositioning the boat, the buoy was brought on board, and test strips were retrieved. 

Next up: Another CTD scan and retrieving additional moorings, if time permits. Stay tuned!


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