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A trip to the bottom


In the sub




By Ebonie Sampson, Rutgers student

On January 5, 1999, at about 4:30 p.m., I learned that I was going to get the chance to journey to the bottom of the ocean. I was extremely excited. Then, as I stood there with a full cup of water in my in hand, I suddenly realized that going to the bathroom the next day would be really difficult between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The reason­I would be spending nine hours in a small titanium ball with two other people­and no bathroom.

So then I knew the first thing I had to do was stop drinking. This was not easy because everyone made a point to let me known how good everything they had to drink tasted.

The next morning I awoke bright and early, around 6:30 a.m. I am not sure if it was the alarm clock that woke me or the butterflies, but I was wide awake and ready for my adventure.

I climbed into Alvin around 8:30 a.m. and they sealed the hatch. The next thing I know I was being lowered into the water. At about 25 meters the pilot asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this, and even though the butterflies were even larger than before, I quickly nodded my head with a big smile­yes!

As I watched out my small port hole, I saw the water change from a light blue to a fluorescent blue to black. At this time we had reached the bottom and the subs lights were turned on. The very first things I saw were big rocks and a cliff. The cliffs in the area were frightening because it seemed as though we would fall over and disappear. After awhile, though, I got pretty comfortable being at the bottom of the ocean.

Among the most interesting things I saw were the black smokers. I was amazed to see they really did look like smoking chimneys. I also saw crabs, star fish and sea anemones. There were also these funny fish that gathered head first in the holes in the rocks.

At about 4:30 p.m. we began our ascent to the surface. I would like to have explored the bottom a little longer, but it was time to go. The trip up was a lot of fun as well. The pilot let me drop the subs weights and inform the ship of our depth on the way up. When I finally reached the surface, I was greeted with two buckets of ice water­a bath that everyone gets on a first dive.

It was all worth it!

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