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Latitude: 34° 10'N
Longitude: 62° 33'W
Wind Direction: WNW
Wind Speed: 25 Knots
Sea State: 4
Sea Temperature: 76°F (24.4°C)
Swell(s) Height: 12 Foot
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 MB
Sausage, Canadian bacon
Currant pecan scones
Turkey a la king
Red beans and sausage
Broccoli and cheddar quiche
Grilled sirloin strip steaks
Jamaican jerk chicken
Grilled Italian sausage
Buffalo salsa potato skins
Fresh baked rolls
Homemade coconut butterscotch brownies
Another world, our world
June 16, 2003
By Joe Appel
For every mail buoy question asking about
a scientific issue or a snippet of daily ship life, we got at
least one asking something like this: What’s it like to
go in Alvin? What’s it like down at the bottom
of the ocean?
Every time I received one of those, I would forward it to someone else. I didn’t
know what it’s like down there. And I still don’t, really, but I
have gotten a small taste. I am amazingly lucky: I got to ride in Alvin. I
went along on what turned out to be the last dive of the cruise, a trip to the
summit of Manning Seamount with Expedition Leader Pat Hickey and biologist Susan
The first time I felt how big a deal this was
was when Pat told the ship crew over the radio to “let ‘em
go.” That was when the sub was released from the ship’s
A-frame, and floated free in the water. There was a sudden feeling
of being all alone. After a short time, we started descending,
through gradually darkening water that at about 400 meters became
pitch black. So long euphotic zone, deep ocean, here we come.
Splotches of bioluminescent organisms that floated by were a sudden reminder
that I wasn’t in the midst of a lifeless environment. This was probably
the most important thing I learned down there: we humans are the visitors, the
strange ones. These things we float by, they own the place.
Once we arrived at the bottom, we saw stunning corals and other organisms in
a surprising variety of colors. We saw the so-called Oreo fish, which would float
by our well-lit submarine as if we barely existed. Think about that: these fish
live about as long as the average human, 75 years, most if not all that time
in utter darkness. Then we show up in this crazy contraption, and they literally
don’t bat an eye. They were just there, the wise men of the neighborhood.
We are the visitors.
My experience 1400 meters beneath the ocean surface was awesome. Not “awesome” as
in “really really good,” but “awesome” in that it inspired
my awe, my total wonder at and humble appreciation for this world we visit briefly.
This world an that hides almost all of itself from us, while we go on convinced
we know everything we need to. This world, can offer, if we quiet down enough
to give it the chance, a glimpse of infinity.
In the end, this is what true scientific discovery aims to find. It’s what
Dive and Discover is about. So goodbye for now, but please do keep in touch with
us, and be sure to follow our future expeditions.
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