Thursday, June 30, 2011

Science Diver Training Day 5 (Part 2 – Everything Else)

The Rita Zovetta, a 5,107-ton steamship sunk in 1924 in the waters off of St. David's. It was also the site of our second dive on Tuesday.

In a buddy team of three, Miriam, Stu, and I set of to sketch and measure the 360-foot long ship. While the Rita Zovetta is far bigger than the Dredger we dove earlier in the course, I found it less impressive to actually look at. When you look at the dredger, it’s easy to see and imagine the whole ship, the Rita Zovetta is so broken up over reef that it’s almost a bit overwhelming.

Not complaining, mind you. There were still lots of interesting bits to explore once we'd done our jobs. Plus...When the ocean floor is your classroom, it’s hard to complain.

Stu and Miram measuring the propellor of the Rita Zovetta.
(Img Credit: Emily Greenhalgh) 

Dive site three was significantly less exciting that dive sites one and two. We headed back to Whalebone to do some search and recovery.

Alex and Forrest placed two cinderblocks and four bottles of beer on the bottom. Each buddy team was to conduct search patterns with rope or reel in order to find and retrieve our “lost divers.” Fortunately, under the water, we were safe from the spontaneous downpour on the surface.

Searching for bottles of sand-colored beer on the sandy bottom of Whalebone was neither fun nor easy. Miriam, Stu, and I swept our area as best we could (we had some navigation problems at first) and eventually rescued what I started referring to as “comrade Corona.”

(No, we weren’t allowed to drink the beer after we found it, though we did ask).

We may have found all of our targets eventually, but seeing as how an actual lost diver only has three to six minutes before a rescue is realistically a recovery, we probably need some more practice…

Our last dive was a genuinely scientific one. We were collecting coral samples for one of the scientists (as well as searching for tiny inch-long snails that were impossible to find).

Hammer and chisel in hand, buddy pairs went off to collect two to three dinner plate sized coral samples per group. This actually ends up being trickier than it seems, since managing to get the proper angle as to not chisel off a chunk of the reef with your desired coral.

It was a long day and (after lots of napping on the boat ride home) we were all happy to get back to BIOS. Once there, as if to add fuel to the fire of an awesome day, I got to meet Sylvia Earle that night.


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