By Katrina Wyllie College of Charleston, Marine Biology Major
Tybee Island in the distance.
It is the first day at sea! And what a beautiful day it is. The water is calm, the sun is shining and people are happy. The scenery leaving the dock in Savannah was very pleasant with many bird and dolphin sightings. Venetia Butler, one of the educators sailing on this leg, is a Savannah local and she pointed out the forts and lighthouses and some interesting history as we entered the open ocean. A few hours later, just as everybody was getting comfortable and relaxed, the first of two drills started. At one point we donned our “gumby” (survival) suits for the abandon ship drill and looked like a small army of orange gumbies. After the drills, most of us were comfortable navigating the several levels, or decks, of the boat and satisfied that if anything were to go wrong, we were in very capable hands.
Researchers in "gumby" survival suits.
After a few hours of transiting, we were nearing our destination and three divers prepared for their first dive. We watched the crew deploy the small craft and enjoyed the view while the divers had a great dive with many fish sightings. Dave Grenda, a diver from REEF, reported seeing twenty-two species on his dive (he’ll be reporting on this dive for Tuesday’s log)! Several dolphins popped up to say “hi” and we even saw a large barracuda hanging around the surface. Once the divers were safely back onboard and the boat was lifted back on the deck, we were ready start collecting multibeam data. Our first CTD (measures conductivity, temperature and depth) cast was successful and the first watch of surveyors were ready to get to work. The first few lines of data collection look good and the survey crew are happy. The seas are calm and hopefully will stay that way tonight and into tomorrow. It has been an exciting first day at sea and everybody is ready for the weeklong cruise!