June 4, 2002
My name is Jenny and I’m in the 7th grade in Greenville, North Carolina. I just lucked out and found this website while surfing one day and was very interested to see that a person from Greenville has such a fascinating career! I have gotten some of my fellow classmates interested in your expedition also and we have been following the action. We have a few questions for Dr. Shank:
1. What is it like to see these wild underwater vents and creatures for the first time? How do you describe it to other people who have never been there?
2. What is it like to be famous explorer and to have a career that is so fascinating and unusual? How many months of the year are you out exploring the ocean’s bottom? It must be fantastic to travel the world for a job.
3. Do you ever get back to Greenville to visit old friends and family and have you ever given speeches to local schools there?
4. A few of us have seen shows on the Discovery Channel about hydrothermal vents. Are there plans for you to make any more of these shows in the future, Dr. Shank?
5. Considering all of the different kinds of animals found down there, what kinds of animals are your favorite?
6. Did you go to Greenville High School?
Thank you for your time,
Greenville, North Carolina
Seeing the unusual life around vents for the first time is forever etched in my memory. It was in December 1993 on the East Pacific Rise and we dove to an area where the Riftia tubeworms were 4 feet tall. We were taking pictures of the animal communities to see how they changed from the previous year. We didn’t want to disturb the communities so we did not sample any animals. It was not until my second cruise that I was able to touch the tubeworms, mussels, and clams. Descending in Alvin and seeing the animals over a mile down on the seafloor is like going into a different world that despite the activity in the sub, gives you a calm feeling.
I am at sea anywhere from 1 to 4 months a year, and often in exotic places like the Galápagos, Easter Island (off the coast of South America), and Mauritius Island (in the Indian Ocean).
I love coming back to Greenville whenever I can to visit my parents and friends, and I wish I could be there more. I have given a few speeches at schools there, but not in the last few years.
There have been several TV shows about vents and the submarine Alvin. A National Geographic camera crew was with us during this cruise and they plan to make a 1 hour documentary of our work (as well as a few short ones). Perhaps it will appear on TV in the next 6 months.
Of all the animals, I like looking at the tubeworms and mussels (and the smaller animals around them) on the seafloor and how the vent fluids circulate around them.
I went to JH Rose high school, and enjoyed playing football, acting in the school plays, playing the bass in the school orchestra, and even being President of the school my senior year. I really liked growing up in Greenville, and hope to get back there again soon.
Thank you, Jenny, for message.
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