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2007 Aquarius Mission
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Mission Log: September 21, 2007

Scott Donahue
Associate Science Coordinator

Today started at 5:30 am when our Aquarius reef base technicians started performing their morning systems checks.  I managed to squeeze in another hour of sleep before getting out of bed, but the other aquanauts seem to stay awake once James and Tim start going.  Of course the days always beginning with a freeze dried breakfast of some kind and today was no different...I had freeze dried granola with milk and blueberries.  JUST ADD WATER AND EAT!!  Once we all eat and did our morning routines, we started preparing for the very busy schedule we had in store for this day. 

First up was a polycom lecture between our Aquarius aquanauts and a Key Largo (local) Montessori school grades 3-6.  From the beginning of this mission, I have been the camera man for these shows so I suited up, along with our hostess Kate Thompson, around 9:30am to be ready for the 10:00am start time. This particular show was going to be even more interesting for us because Dr. Lindquist's daughter Kelly was also a host, and eventually joined us in the water.  Also, as Drs. Chris Martens and Niels Lindquist were doing their show, we were very honored to have our local congresswoman and environmental advocate, Ileana Ros-Leithen, come visit us inside the Aquarius during this broadcast.  She is a wonderful person and we were thrilled to have her visit.  She even managed to answer some questions asked by the students while she was here. Once madam Ros-Leithen departed, we had to quickly turn our divers around to do our LIVE noon show.  So, Niels had to unsuit from the SuperLite 17 helmet, I had to stage in with my SCUBA gear, then turn around and get into the SuperLite 17 to host the Friday noon show.  I was pretty nervous because I had never done anything like that before so I wasn't sure what to expect.  PLUS, I had somewhat of a script I needed to memorize to make sure I highlighted the important aspects of coral reef conservation. 

SO...I started my noon show not fully prepared, but I don't think anyone is "fully" prepared to do those types of things.  I ended up just pointing out some of the easier ways to make a difference to ocean health and coral reef conservation and I hope all of our audience got something usefull out of it.  Hosting the show was really exciting and it's a blast doing these thing LIVE from 60 feet under water.  Seriously, how cool is that?  I hope everyone gets the opportunity to do something like this because it is really the coolest thing I have ever done (except quiting smoking).  After our noon show ended, I "staged out" of my SuperLite 17 helmet, then came back inside the habitat for some lunch (a couple of tortillas with cheese and salsa). 

After lunch, I had a great time in our chat room answering some questions from other people in there.  I apologize to everyone for us not spending more time in the chat room but we will be this weekend.  After spending about an hour or so in the chat room, Dr. Martens and I gave three press interviews to various organizations.  The first one was Fox News, where we answered various questions about the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, sponges and their ecological role in coral reef and ocean health, and other questions Aquarius-related.  That interview should be packaged into a pod-cast, available from iTunes sometime next week.  The next interview was from AP press, and focused on similar questions.  The final reporter was one from the Keys, and asked some great questions...so we recapped the mission objectives and scheduled a time for him to visit the outside of the habitat sometime tomorrow. 

Once Kate and Niels got back from their dives (at 6:00p) we had dinner (freeze dried hamberger and mashed potatoes for me) then discussed our next days dive.  We try to schedule a maximum of 6 hours of diving but Dr. Martens is feeling a bit under the weather, so we are trying to schedule dives for 3 divers.  Thankfully ,most of the hard work is finished so we can make a bunch of "fun" dives now.  We will be shooting some awesome video footage during the next couple of days and we will try to post these on our OceansLive.org, or www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov, AND youtube.com. 

Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for our daily noon show when Dr. Ellen Prager will tell us more about the Aquarius habitat and the incredible missions NURC has supported over the years.

That's it for now.  But don't forget...if any students out there are reading this log,  YOU could be down here some day if you apply yourself.

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