Bioluminescence and Biodiversity Expedition 2007
July 27 - August 1, 2007
July 30, 2007
ROV Pilot Bryan Schaefer writes: Yesterday turned out to be a very long day. We had damaged our umbilical, the cable that connects the vehicle to the ship, as a result we had to cut the damaged section out and re-terminate it into the vehicle. This is a long and difficult process involving securing the cable to the vehicle so it can’t pull out, as well as making the electrical and fiber optic connections inside a waterproof housing. The most interesting part of the process, in my opinion, is fusion-splicing the fibers. This is a delicate job that basically consists of welding the human-hair-size glass fibers together end to end. If done correctly all the control signals and video to and from the vehicle will be transmitted on pulses of light that flow through these glass fibers.After successfully completing this process, which started the previous night, we were able to make an afternoon dive. As usual we were able to find and catch many interesting and little-known animals. Some were collected rather willingly, as we closed a “D-sampler” around them without causing the creature to even change direction. Others, like a small squid were not interested in the least in being caught. One squid was particularly hard to catch! He was just as fast as the vehicle and faster in small bursts, as well as much more maneuverable. I tried over and over to suck him into our suction sampler. I imagine it would be a lot like trying to catch a mouse with a vacuum in your house, sprinting around your living room as the mouse darts under couches, tables, and such. Every time I would finally catch up to him he would dart deftly out of the way. After many attempts, it was decided we should give up and move on. The squid must be exhausted by this point being chased around by a 7500 lb. monster for close to 10 minutes. With this in mind I made one last burst towards him and this time got the tip of the suction nozzle close by; he immediately shot down the tube squirting out ink in protest. Finally, we had caught this elusive speed demon.
Thankfully, recovering the vehicle went smooth despite the rough weather. The last thing I wanted was something else to get broken; I had had quite enough excitement for one day. Once the vehicle was safe on deck, I relaxed by reading a couple chapters of Harry Potter, and then resigned myself to bed for the evening.