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Click below to go to the Cruise Logs - (photo credit: Lophelia Coral - Open-File Report 2008-1148 & OCS Study MMS 2008-015)

DISCOVRE 2008



Pre-Cruise Log: 10/04/2008    Seastate: Flat at the Dock



Loading and Prepping Gear for our Cruise

Amanda W.J. Demopoulos

Crew of the Nancy Foster assist with loading of heavy gear using a crane (photo by S. Ross) - click to enlarge
Crew of the Nancy Foster assist with loading of heavy gear using a crane (photo by S. Ross) - click to enlarge
Research cruises are exciting and adventurous. As marine scientists, we get to travel to distant places, meet new people from around the world, and get well fed, sometimes too well fed. However, cruises require a great deal of advanced planning and preparation in order for them to go off without a hitch. Logistical planning includes requesting funding for the research, finding a ship to conduct the work, acquiring the necessary gear, and coordinating with scientists to get the job done. Personally, participating on research cruises is one of the most exciting aspects of my work, and I look forward to going to sea every year. It is with great anticipation, anxiety, and excitement that I share with you our pre-cruise preparations, starting a few days before disembarking from the dock.

Steve Artabane goes to great length to repair a fish net (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge
Steve Artabane goes to great length to repair a fish net (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge
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).
Adela Roa-Varon is mending a net that will be used to trap small fish in the deep coral habitats (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge
Adela Roa-Varon is mending a net that will be used to trap small fish in the deep coral habitats (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge
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.


Fish traps are tied down and secure for an on time departure from the dock (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge
Fish traps are tied down and secure for an on time departure from the dock (photo by A. Demopoulos) - click to enlarge


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