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2007 Florida Keys Mission
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Mission Log Aug. 7, 2008

Scott Donahue, Chief Scientist
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Cruise divers ready to dive on station SF-03 - can you see the dive flag? (Photo: Kathy Morrow)
Location: Trumbo Annex, Key West - pre-cruise mobilization

Today was travel day for most the scientists participating on this year’s cruise.  Our Principal Investigators spent much of the day preparing for the cruise, which included loading the ship with all the equipment necessary to complete our mission.  Thankfully, we had help loading these materials from our staff at NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary office in Key West, and the crew of the NOAA ship Nancy Foster.  After some dinner and drinks on the town, we had our pre-cruise briefing aboard the ship at 1700 hrs.  Our team got comfortable in our new home, and settled in for our first night on the ship.  Breakfast is at 0700 hrs tomorrow morning, with a 0800 hrs departure for the dive teams.

Mission Log Aug. 8, 2008

Location: Sand Key (Key West) – Day one

Today started out as a wonderful day to be back on the Nancy Foster for our annual Coral Disease Cruise.  Most of us were still pretty tired from loading the ship yesterday, and 0700 hrs came earlier than I expected. 

Today’s morning objective is to locate a particular survey station on Sand Key reef where our entire science team will partake in a “Quality Assurance / Quality Control” exercise, which is done every year on the first day.  This helps all of us survey veterans shake the cobwebs out of our brains, and familiarizes those in the science party that are new this year to our sampling methodology.  After this QA/QC, our mission began in earnest.  We ended up surveying five stations today, which is exactly what we planned for.  Of course, anyone who has been on a boat knows you cannot plan for everything!  What we didn’t plan for was the ship’s air compressor (the thing that fills SCUBA cylinders) experiencing catastrophic mechanical failure on the first day of the cruise.  As they say, stuff happens.  This complication forced us to re-evaluate our sampling plan to accommodate the need to rent SCUBA cylinders to complete our mission.  Ultimately, we chose to flip-flop our schedule and sample the sites along the Keys reef tract first, then steam to the Tortugas afterward.  Once this new plan was in place, we needed to wrangle up some tanks!  With the help of the ship, our science crew, and staff from NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, we amassed enough full SCUBA cylinders today (52 in all) to continue our mission for the next two and a half days.  On Monday (Aug, 11), we will need to amass over 80 full SCUBA cylinders before we steam to the Dry Tortugas, but I am always up for a challenge!!

Number of stations surveyed today: 5
Total number of dives today: 15
Total number of dives for the cruise: 15

NOAA ship Nancy Foster with Loggerhead Key lighthouse in background. A sea plane flies into view as photo was taken. (Photo: Kathy Morrow)

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