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And the Excitement Continues

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Last night, after the Soul Train excitement in the laboratory, we decided to use an hour of down time to play with the “Green Magnet”.  I’ve been hearing the crew and the scientists speak about it, but I had no idea what they were talking about.  I learned the Green Magnet is a green lighting system that is placed in the water next to the boat.  This light attracts a wide arrange of animals including cephalopods and fish.  Almost simultaneously, the squid and fish began gathering toward the green light as soon as it entered the water, which was a sight to see.  Swarms of small schooling fish began hovering around the Green Magnet as squid would jet from one side to the other.  A few of us even dropped some fishing lines in the water in the hopes of catching a fish or even jigging a squid.



Nice catch Travis!



In the early afternoon today I had a chance to remember why I love teaching.  I was able to Skype with students from the Florida Aquarium Summer Camp.  The students were elementary aged but were full of energy and questions.  Dr. Judkins and I started off the video session by introducing ourselves and explaining our research goals at sea. 

After learning about our mission the students were very eager to ask questions, so we opened it up to the floor.  Many great questions were asked and it was apparent these students had knowledge of the ocean.  Many questions were asked about cephalopods, particularly cuttlefish and giant squid, which is Dr. Judkins’ specialty.

Students were also very eager to ask about life at sea, specifically on the vessel.  They were in shock when they learned the DEEPEND team will spend 16 days and nights at sea.  With that in mind, they inquired about what the staterooms looked like.  They were excited to hear we have bunk beds aboard the Point Sur, and they even started laughing when I told them I hit my head sitting up in bed.   Then they asked about the number of people on board and Dr. Judkins answered “23” and the student replied “so it’s like a party” and immediately all the kids started dancing.  I even caught a student in the back doing the Whip and Nae Nae (I loved this and my COAST students will tell you I often Whip and Nae Nae with them in class). 

After the camp counselors settled them down, they became very intrigued with anglerfish and blobfish.  It was at that exact moment Dr. Moore peaked his head into the Skype session to give detailed answers being his expertise. We all had a great time educating and laughing with the students while we Skyped.



Good folks, the excitement for today did not stop there…


With storm clouds rolling in, and 2 AUV’s to be picked up, I was to experience something really cool!  The weather became stormy and the waves were too great to deploy the zodiac to retrieve the AUV’s so the captain decided to position the Point Sur to use the crane on board to assist with the retrievals.  I quickly put on my hard hat and PFD, then witnessed the intense process of the retrieval.  I was on deck with the rain beating down and the waves crashing over the stern of the vessel.  I truly felt an adrenaline rush as it reminded me of episodes of The Deadliest Catch.  The ship was rocking consistently by the large waves from the storm.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, the ECOGIG’s AUV, the SALTY DAWG, was successfully retrieved from the stormy ocean.  The SALTY DAWG and the MODENA (retrieved yesterday) are safely onboard heading back to land with us.  Even though these AUV’s are not operated by DEEPEND, this shows the dedication and collaboration of the science community to work together in achieving our goals.




This experience was so amazing and heart throbbing; I will remember it for time to come!  I am looking forward to more amazing experiences as the ones I was able to experience today!



Chris Valdes, Teacher at Sea






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Guest Monday, 27 June 2022