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2008 Cordell Bank Mission
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Mission Blog: Sept. 30, 2009

Chelsea Lowes, Onboard Cruise Log Coordinator
Knauss Sea Grant Fellow, NOAA Ecosystem Research Program

Close up of pink-tipped anemone.
Divemaster Jenny Vander Pluym and large barrel sponge. (Photo: NOAA CCFHR)
This morning we could see the Keys approaching fast!  After breakfast the science crew began breaking down their equipment and packing it back up for the long trip back to North Carolina.  By the time we arrived in Key West most of the major equipment was packed up and ready to be unloaded.  Unfortunately, a torrential downpour that delayed offloading and packing up the trailer greeted us.  Instead, we had a meeting in which we reviewed the cruise – and not one person had anything negative to say! 

Underwater camera lighting reveals colors of seaweeds and invertebrates.
Underwater camera lighting reveals colors of seaweeds and invertebrates. (Photo: NOAA CCFHR)
We all realize how fortunate we have been the last nine days – the weather has been gorgeous; the crew we have been working with is happy, energetic, and irreplaceable; and, finally yet importantly, we have had the opportunity to explore some of our oceans’ greatest treasures and witness their unimaginable beauty.  If only every person could have a similar opportunity to observe the treasure below the surface of these vast expanses of water…perhaps then we would all begin to appreciate the importance of these ecosystems and their magnificent biodiversity!

Diver silhouetted over the reef.
Diver silhouetted over the reef. (Photo: NOAA CCFHR)
As we pack up and prepare for departure from Key West, the science team would like to thank the entire crew of the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, from the small boat operators to galley crew.  Our survey technicians were exceptional and the deck crew kept our operations running smoothly and efficiently.  The engineering expertise was priceless, as we would have been stopped in our tracks a few times if it were not for the engineers’ ability to step in, assess a problem, and come up with a fix in record time. 

Diver signals OK, see you next year.
Diver signals OK, see you next year. (Photo: NOAA CCFHR)
The coordination by the officers has also been unmatchable; by keeping us on course and on time, we were able to complete all of our operations in record time.  We also want to extend our thanks to the galley crew, Lito Llena and Clifton Boyd; it’s unbelievable what eating three wholesome meals a day can do for morale.  Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank webmasters Valarie Thorpe and Katalin Zakar in Silver Spring, MD and those back in Beaufort, NC for their support from afar.

See you next year!

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