Easter Microplate Expedition
March 13, 2005 Day 2

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Transit day 2.
We are making good progress at full steam with the wind and swell at our stern. Since we left Tahiti and the island's influence on the weather, we've had clear skies and calm seas. The water is blue, blue, blue and so inviting. Unfortunately, swim calls are not allowed due to fear of sharks and the need to make good time to our study site. Meals (which are yummy), preparations for our dives, safety orientations, and science meetings are keeping us more or less occupied.
–Jenny Paduan

alivin-on-decklowres.jpg (92815 bytes)The submersible Alvin was brought out to the fantail from its hanger for maintenance and a bath in the sun. In the foreground is our seawater testing facility. Panorama by Dan Layton-Matthews.

I still can't believe it, but I am now aboard the Atlantis. We set sail yesterday afternoon from Papeete, Tahiti. As we waved goodbye to land for the next month we were able to stand on the deck and watch the sun set over Moorea, the island next to Tahiti. A pod of spinner dolphins started to follow us as we left the harbor. I've never seen anything like it! We are now about a day and a half into an 8 day transit to our first dive site, 38 degrees south.

Dan_gumby3_640.JPG (55584 bytes)This morning the science party attended safety meetings and learned how to don immersion suits, fondly called "Gumby suits," which will protect us from sinking or freezing should we have to abandon ship. Sadly, I was not lucky enough to be selected to demonstrate how to put on the large red full body suit.

M_J_musselWeighing_640.jpg (64779 bytes)

While in transit, we have been working to get our mussel pots in working order. Everything must be perfect for them to collect the best possible samples. The size of the Kevlar bag, the position of the grommets, and the method of twisting the rope must all meet very exacting standards. We finally finished one this afternoon. Jessica and I then had to jump into the pool on deck to get the wet weight of the completed bag for the engineers-- an ideal task on a beautiful tropical day!
–Megan Evans

VictorMusselPot.jpg (60586 bytes)Victor in the main lab helping to make quivers to secure "mussel pots" to the Alvin's science basket. The stainless steel stock pot with the "T" handle for the the Alvin's manipulator to grip is the mussel pot itself. It is a sampler for collecting mussels and attached fauna for Cindy Van Dover's community structure studies.

SafetyMeeting.jpg (62710 bytes)


The science party attending a safety briefing. Chief Scientist Bob Vrijenhoek is front and center.


Our position as of 11pm local time March 13. We've gone about 270 nautical miles of the course we'll be on for 2200 nautical miles.


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This expedition has been made possible by National Science Foundation grants to Dr. Robert Vrijenhoek (NSF OCE-0241613) and Dr. Cindy Van Dover (NSF OCE-0350554)

All underwater photos were taken with the submersible Alvin, and are courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.