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2007 Florida Keys Mission
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Mission Log Sept. 18, 2009

Scott Donahue, Chief Scientist

I can’t believe it has been eight days already!  Today was the last day of field work and both our science crew and the ship’s crew were anxious to head back to port in Key West.  But before we could do that, we had three more stations to visit (all of which are at Western Sambo reef) and we needed to enter all those data into our database. 

Science team member George Garrett helps shuttle SCUBA cylinders between small boats during the first day of our mission.
The day began in the typical way...up at 6:30am, breakfast at 7:00, then our morning science meeting at 7:30.  During our meeting we outlined plans for our final day, which included sampling the two remaining stations, establishing a new survey station, and entering the morning’s data into our database before we reach the dock!  As today was Clare’s last chance for snorkeling before she returned to her hometown of Buffalo, NY, we sent her out with one of the science team.  Once the two science teams departed the ship at 8:00am, we stuck to our plans...the rest of us focused on entering data from yesterday and generally packing up our science equipment and personal items.  By the time the survey teams returned to the ship (11:00am), all data except for the morning’s had been entered and reviewed for any discrepancies.  Then came the mad rush...........

Science team member Lonny Anderson measures a sea fan (Gorgonia ventalina) to see if it is large enough to include in our dataset."
Once back on board Lauri, Geoff, Kathy, and Cory started entering the morning’s data, Sarah started filling the empty SCUBA cylinders from the morning dives, and Lonny began to arrange some of our heavy science gear on deck so the ship’s crane to be used to unload it once we returned to the dock.  At the same time, Clare started wrapping up her NOAA teacher at sea duties, while George and Mike pitched in and began cleaning their state rooms and lab space.  Josh was pretty busy as well making sure all the data sheets had been entered into the database, and into the mission three ring binder.  While everyone was doing that, I was busy reviewing and summarizing our entire time at sea in order to debrief with the CO and OPS officer once we were dockside.

Survey technician Melody Ovard deploys a CTD prior to conducting multibeam sonar operations."
At roughly 12:30pm, the NOAA ship Nancy Foster heaved dock lines at the USCG station at Trumbo Point annex in Key West.  Once the ship was secured and the gangplank placed, the entire science team began unloading our equipment in earnest.  We call this process “de-mobilizing” and usually goes much faster than the “mobilizing” process.  By 1600 hrs (4:00pm), our science team finished entering and verifying all our survey data, unloaded approximately two tons of equipment and personal items, and everyone was ready for some well earned R&R.  By the time the sun went down, most of the ship’s crew AND the science crew were fondly remembering the last eight days at sea, with dinks in hand and smiles on our faces.

As Chief Scientist, I personally thank our science crew for their dedication and perseverance - the ship’s crew for their exemplary professionalism and flexibility - our NOAA teacher at sea for never making strange faces during our endless stream of Latin binomials - the staff of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that helped before, during, and after our mission - to our Office of National Marine Sanctuaries multimedia staff and webmaster for collecting and formatting this information to share on the internet – and all others I have accidentally omitted here.  This cruise could not have been safely and successfully accomplished with out all of you!!!

So, our final tally for the work completed on this year’s eight day cruise is......(drum roll please)......

Total number of individual dives: 175
Total number of minutes diving: 10,754 = 179 hours = 7.5 days
Total number of stations surveyed: 42
Total number of new stations established: 2
Total number of stations that were not surveyed: 4

Scientist with the most time spent diving: Kathy Morrow at 1,301 minutes!!

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