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Latitude: 38° 12'N
Longitude: 60° 32'W
Wind Direction: S
Wind Speed: 19 Knots
Sea State: 3
Sea Temperature: 70°F (21.1°C)
Swell(s) Height: 7 Foot
Barometric Pressure: 1010.0 MB
Visibility: 10 Nautical Miles
Orange French toast
Omelets (cheese or vegetable)
Streusel coffee cake
Key West shrimp salad on fresh challah rolls
Mongolian grill beef tips
Grilled ham and cheese
Southwestern vegetable casserole
Homemade Mediterranean cookies
Mild Italian sausage
Chicken ravioli in rosemary alfredo sauce
Roasted onions, garlic, mushrooms
Chocoholic pecan brownie
May 30, 2003
By Joe Appel
Today's excitement started early. By 6:50
a.m., ABE had returned from its nighttime journey. Less than
20 minutes later, ABE guru Dana Yoerger had put together maps
of the area ABE covered. He brought them up to the mess, where
Chief Scientist Jess Adkins and Co-chief Scientist Dan Scheirer
were eating breakfast before their Alvin descent with
pilot Bruce Strickrott.
It was then time for Alvin to go down. The ABE maps came along for the
ride. As it turned out, they wouldn't be needed today. But there's only one reason
for that: the weather, which forced Alvin to re-surface 3 hours earlier
than had been planned.
The weather was growing increasingly stormy
as the morning went on. At 10:45 a.m., approximately 2 1/2 hours
after Alvin dipped beneath the surface of the ocean, Ship
Captain Gary Chiljean came up to the bridge and uttered a single
sentence: "Weather's turning bad," he said.
The culprit was the wind. Expedition Leader Pat Hickey radioed to pilot Strickrott, "Winds
getting high, swells increasing. In all likelihood, we're going to abort you
in a couple minutes."
In fact, Hickey gave the sub another 30 minutes before issuing the command to
"It wasn't a hard decision," Hickey said later. "You take one look out there,
say, 'This is bad. Bring 'em up.'"
The waves were rolling enough when Alvin re-surfaced
that the recovery took longer than usual.
But once the sub and its passengers were safely
aboard, the mood changed from one of quiet tension to exhilaration.
In only two hours along the ocean floor, Strickrott, Adkins and
Scheirer had filled the sub's collection basket with a number
of the grand prize: fossil corals.
"The most important thing about today is that
we got our face on the seafloor," Adkins said. "And then, that
we were able to get ourselves to a variety of locations. And
then, that we got our hands on the goodies."
The grand goodie is the mushroom-shaped Desmophyllum
cristagalli, but also some Solenosmilia variabilis, an
interconnected mass of tubes.
"The key," said Adkins, "is that we got them as fossils. We know this because
they're covered in black manganese crusts, which can accumulate only over time,
after the coral has died."
All the scientists who hovered around the collection
basket were as excited as Adkins. "It's a huge win," said scientist
Selene Eltgroth, "because it was a very short dive but they still
came back with really good things. That suggests that there's
a lot more down there."
As for ABE's maps, cutting the trip short meant they could not be fully utilized. "But
tomorrow's dive," Adkins promised, "is based entirely on the ABE maps."
Late Friday night, the seas were still raging pretty hard. The decision of whether
the next day's scheduled dive would happen was left to the only real authority
out here: the wind.
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