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The Hunt for the Alligator

Hunt for the Alligator Expedition Log for Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005

By Karen Cronin
Vice President for Operations
Independence Seaport Museum

After working on the Alligator program at Independence Seaport Museum, I was so excited when NOAA gave us of the opportunity to be included in this year’s expedition.  Being invited to participate on this mission was a chance of a lifetime.  Not sure of what to expect, I traveled to Ocracoke along with Dyann and Deanna Connor, a teacher and student from Philadelphia’s Friends’ Central School.  We kept a close eye on the weather forecast as Hurricane Ophelia moved from Florida towards South Carolina.  On Friday evening we met with the rest of the team and were told to report at the dock the next morning at 7:00 am where we would receive a briefing from chief scientist and expedition leader, Mike Overfield.There are a number of individuals and organizations NOAA and the Office of Naval Research would like to thank for their continued logistical help on the 2005 Hunt for the Alligat

We arrive dockside at 7:00 am.  Mike gave us a briefing about the offshore weather reports and the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.  Due to the conditions, he decided the remainder of the search would be called off.  Instead, we would spend the day aboard the YP-679 to learn about the survey equipment and observe processing of the data collected by the team on Friday.  This was a little disappointing, but given the forecasted conditions, it would not make for a very good day at sea.

Mike first explained how and why the particular search area was chosen and how they developed a number of  “targets” for further investigation.  We spent the day learning about the different types of equipment used to collect data and how the data was processed and evaluated.  We listened as the researchers discussed the various targets they identified during the previous days search.  The highlight of the day was getting a chance to operate the Stingray ROV.

It was an incredible opportunity, and I was excited to get back to Philadelphia to share my experience with my colleagues at the Seaport Museum and further develop our educational programs.  We will continue to share the story of the USS Alligator with teachers, students and the public through our website, public programs, workshops for teachers, lesson plans and field trips.