Monday, October 3, 2011

Back on dry land!!

After a two and a half week adventure out on the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Holiday Chouest (a 250' research vessel), I am finally back on dry land. I got to see 3 new states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana) and also see parts of the Gulf of Mexico that have yet to be explored. The point of our trip was to investigate the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on mesophotic reef communities (~60-100 meters deep). We sent an ROV down equipped with video cameras, digital cameras, HD cameras, boxes for collecting specimens, and coring devices.

The ROV headed down over the side of the Holiday.

The 9 million dollar machine served us well as we recorded video and collected coral/invert samples 24/7 for the 2 weeks we were at sea. It was a long and trying voyage, working 12 hours a day in 6-hour shifts (I was on the 6-12 and 1800-2400 shift), meaning it was impossible to get more than 4 hours of sleep at a time. But working on little to no sleep only made us stronger and being able to focus and watch fish on a TV screen when your eyes are threatening to close is pretty tough but awesome at the same time. It was totally worth it, as I met some really cool people and saw some amazing fish. The sunrises and sunsets were also absolutely beautiful and even the best pictures do not do them justice. I will certainly miss the friends I made onboard, the late night hyena-like laughter at silly things that are only funny when you've had 3 hours of sleep, and the entertaining stories told by the crew members, but I am also excited to be back on land where (ironically) I can be in the water. Being surrounded by the ocean and not being able to go in was pretty hard... although having a view into the water through the ROV was pretty amazing :) Check out my pictures if you want to have a look for yourself: FLouisi-issi-bama

Sunrise on the helipad :)

Oh AND we stopped in New Orleans on the way back.... this is me standing by the Mississippi River and being VERY happy to be wearing a dress as opposed to the pants, hard hat, and steel toed boots I couldn't take off for 2 weeks. Definitely would love to make it back to New Orleans again soon, it's such an amazing city!

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