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Wetlands and Aquatic Research Center - Florida
Pre-Cruise Log: 10/04/2008 Seastate: Flat at the Dock
Loading and Prepping Gear for our Cruise
Amanda W.J. Demopoulos
All of the researchers, including myself, were coming from different places on the globe; as far east as the Netherlands and west as Australia. Somehow, we all had to find our way to Pascagoula, MS to meet up with the ship. The US crew drove as long as 14 hrs from Wilmington, NC or 6.5 hours from Gainesville, FL, carrying heavy loads of gear. Some collaborators came to the ship to help assemble gear, but were unable to join the cruise. Our gear had to be shipped or flown from great distances. As each of us arrived in town by plane or by car, we made our way to the NOAA ship Nancy Foster, docked at the former Naval Ship Yard (on Singing Island). There was no rest for the weary, because we had a great deal of unloading, reloading, and organizing to do once we found the ship. Heavy gear, including the two large benthic landers that had arrived from the Netherlands, and otter and tucker trawls required a crane to load them onto the stern (back end) of the ship, while small gear was hand carried on board. After loading all the gear, each of us found our staterooms and briefly unpacked, before going back to work in the labs and on deck. Much of our gear required reassembling and we spent the better part of two days putting it all back together again. In addition to the landers and trawls, we had to build and assemble fish traps for deep sea fish collections. We set up stations in the labs for microscopes, chemical analyses, genetic sampling, and computer mapping, as well as data management. Finally, before leaving the dock, we had to secure and tie down all of our loose and heavy gear. We were told that the seas would be rough on our way to the first station, so securing everything will prevent any damage or injury. Stay posted as we update you on our first few days at sea.
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