Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22, 2012: Jeremy's Last Day

Jeremy here again and things are winding down a bit as many of us are leaving late tonight to go back home as Ian, Billy and the Hawaii team stay for a couple more days to finish some last REMUS runs and pack everything up. Everyone is feeling pretty tired and exhausted as it has been a pretty dense last couple of weeks with a lot of instrument deployments, maintenance and REMUS work. It has been an amazing experience here but I think everyone is a bit ready to head home.

Tuesday, Mark, Ian, and I did some upkeep and battery replacement on our optics sensor underwater. Like Ian said before, it’s so much fun working underwater. We also did some REMUS runs and had a pretty big scare due to some leaking issues and almost losing the machine. Luckily, everything seems to be okay. Yesterday consisted of testing the REMUS out to make sure everything runs okay with it and we almost lost it again. It’s really interesting to see how planning and preparation can only go so far in the field, and how on-the-fly thinking and planning becomes an essential skill, especially when working with very expensive machinery where problems occur daily. After some frustrating REMUS runs, we decided it was time to relax and do some fun diving so we went out to one of the outer reef walls and checked out the beautiful reef.

A non-profit organization, called Bent Prop, who specialize in finding sunken WWII planes and ships around Palau in order to find MIA’s, approached us to help them out in their search with our REMUS technology. It has been really interesting and we’ve found some sunken ships and bits and pieces of planes. We are going out on the boat this afternoon to check out a fully intact plane that was found yesterday, and we will be part of the first group to ever dive it. It’s very exciting.

It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in just a matter of a couple of weeks about all the technology being used here and how to apply it all. It’s really awesome to see different avenues of marine science and what’s out there to be a part of.

See you all back in the States. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18th, 2012: Getting close to the end

Well as you can tell the blogs are starting to slow down a little bit as they always do at this time.  This means that we are getting tired after long hard days at work and we are closing in on the end of our stay.

We had a great last couple of days as Jeremy put in the blog.  It rained again yesterday, but we got in a couple of great REMUS runs over a reef that we are trying to match light reflectrance signals with known bottom samples so that we can start comparing them to satellite signals for conservation work.  We also picked up one of our instrument towers and moved to the other side of the island to work with the hawaii group.  We got to dive to remove it and install it.  I love working under water.

Today we went on a trip down south and did some more REMUS runs, ADCP surveys, and got in some beautiful dives.  We finished up the day with one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.  Especially after the last couple of rainy days.

We are trying to plan out the last couple of days before the main group leaves and Billy and I start to pack everything up.

Enjoy the pictures.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012: Guest Writer

Hey everyone, this is Jeremy Kravitz subbing in for Ian tonight as the guest blogger. I finally arrived after long delays resulting in missed flights and having to stay in Hawaii for a night, which isn’t too bad of a problem. However, upon arrival, I’ve hit the ground running with 6am wake up calls and long days out on the boat.

Yesterday, I went out with Ian and Mark and the Scripps crew to do some REMUS runs and ADCP transects while also doing some drift dives with the strong current to pick up some cameras that were placed on the reef to observe some fish spawn aggregations. It was a long day out on the boat and my back is looking pretty red but it was a good introduction to Palau and some of the projects going on. It was also pretty interesting to finally see the REMUS in action.

Today, I went out with the University of Hawaii crew to help them with some diving while installing some wave and current sensors while Mark and Ian and the Scripps team did some more REMUS runs. We had some pretty intense rain and wind out on the boats today as well which made preparing the instruments and sensors on the boat pretty interesting. It was still a fun day though.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012 Exhaustion and Jellies

Today was the day when we realized we were all tired and exhausted.  I arrived at the lab at 6:30 and was surprised to see that I was the first one there.  Normally everyone is already there and preparing for the day, but today everyone got a little extra sleep which was really needed.

Yesterday we installed two wave and current sensors, which involves lifting 150 pounds of gear down to the sea floor and then making sure everything is adjusted correctly.  On the second sensor we anchored where the water was a little too shallow so we had to walk/run/swim the instrument (did I mention it weighed 150 pounds) about 100 feet to deeper water.  It was fun because I had never done that before, but it was a lot of work.  We also installed the optical instrument that we were using earlier in the trip on a pole at the same location.

Today, a group of people went up to jelly fish lake to run the REMUS while another group of us went to collect pressure sensors around the southern tip of Palau, at Peleliu, which was a major battle site during World War II.  We got in 2 beatiful dives and saw lots of sharks and amazing fish along a 200 foot shear cliff.

Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 11th, 2012 More Work and Some Beautiful Pictures

We spent the last 2 days doing REMUS runs and collecting data with cameras, sidescan (makes pictures out of sound waves), and other sensors that you can use to compare to satellite pictures taken from outer space.  When the vehicles are in the water we sit on a boat while the REMUS's run around and make sure that they don't get stuck in a cave or have any problems.  It gets pretty warm so we will jump in the water to cool off.  Some of the other groups ran transects with another boat looking at currents, while another group went diving to pull more instruments out of the water.

We got to go diving and snorkeling at the end of each day to cool off and relax for a couple of minutes.  We have had a couple of small rain storms that blow through quickly, but for the most part it has been quite warm and windy with the tradewinds.

The 2 main places that we have been having dinner are the bar/restaurant next door that was built for the crew of the Survivor series and a restaraunt down the road that was named after German anthropologist who was sent to document the South Pacific islands in the early 1900's.

Enjoy the pictures.
Eric Terrill recovering a wave and pressure sensor 
Diver below the Kemedukl.

Mark, Pat and Eric returning from a long day.

Doggie and Ian on the Kemedukl.

Japanese cannon's from world war II.

Rare Mandarin fish taken by Mark and Billy.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8th, Busy Days

Well yesterday and today were extremely busy, which meant no blog update last night.  We have been working around the tides since they are a major component of our study here.  As the tides come in and go out they can only move through certain parts of the reef or over the barrier reef, which create fast moving areas of water in certain areas. We are interested in how this water moves over the reef and through these channels during these tidal swings.  It is also a full moon right now, which means the tides are at their maximum level, and that the fish are spawning right now.  As a result we are trying to accomplish several things, which means an early start and a late ending to the days.

Mark and I got to retrieve our wave and current sensor yesterday, which we put out last year.  This is always a nervous moment, because we want the sensor to be there and we want it to have data on it.  We also spent time collecting other water level and wave sensors with the rest of the group and testing a sensor that tells us the water speed and direction from the boat that we are using.  It was a really good day because we got to go diving and spend a lot of time under the water yesterday.

I was up late last night making a cable, which consists of soldering wires together and then making it water proof so that it can be deployed underwater.  We got to use it this morning when we were sampling the optical properties of the water in a couple interesting areas (this tells us what is floating in the water, i.e. sediment, phytoplankton, etc), while the Scripps group deployed their REMUS (underwater robot) to look at the fish spawning event.

It has been a crazy couple of days and I am amazed at how much we have accomplished after being here almost a week.

Good night.
Doggie on the optical package.

Mark and Ian lifting the wave and current sensor off the bottom

Wave and current sensor on the deck covered with ocean life.

The crew heading back to the lab.

Ian playing in waves crashing over the front of the boat.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 6th, The Boss's Arrive

Our trusted leaders arrived last night after long flights.  They had a major delay and didn't get in until 5 in the morning.  We spent most of the day preparing more instruments for the next couple of days, while Mark and Eric planned what they wanted to get done over the next week.  We finished the day off with another great poke dinner and went to bed early to prepare for tomorrow.

Good Night.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5th, Into the Water

Putting ADCP in water.
Billy, Ian and Shannon installing ADCP.

Today we got to go out on the boat for the first time and dive to deploy the instruments that we have been working on over the last couple of days.  It was really refreshing since we were all getting lab fever after being stuck inside for the last 2 days.

We went to the west side of the island to deploy the ADCP to measure water currents and put out time lapse cameras to document a fish spawning event that takes place during the full moon every month.  Thousands of fish converge at this single point, but it is not well understand how and why this event happens.  

We also went to find a sensor that records waves and the water level that we put out last year.  The first group was unsuccessful, but a second group went in and found it later.  Imagine trying to find a banana in a field of wild flowers.  It was a beautiful dive, but it was hard to take in the scenary when we were looking for the sensor.

 See you tomorrow.
Sawyer, lab cat.