A while ago Nate invited me to write some posts for this blog, and so after a year of not doing that, I’ve decided it’s finally time chime in.
I work with Nate, and while he seems to have lost his sea-legs and moved to drier ground, I’ve stayed on the marine side where we started, studying coral reefs. A week from today, I’ll begin a saturation mission at the Aquarius Reef Base, a 20’ x 40’ lab located about 5 miles off the coast of Key Largo, FL, at the bottom of Conch Reef. It is one of the few remaining underwater research stations in the world and has been used extensively by scientists for dive-intensive research as well as the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), presumably for training missions but more likely for the opportunity to create another acronym (NEEMO – NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations).
I’ll be living in the habitat with 5 other people for a week to work on two projects: (1) studying herbivory on deep coral reefs, and (2) understanding the indirect effects of fish predators on reef herbivores. Living at depth, or saturating, means we don’t need to come up for surface intervals to off-gas. Instead we simply stay under pressure the entire time until the end of the week, when the station gets sealed up and basically turns into big hyperbaric chamber that slowly brings us back up to surface pressure. This will allow us to spend far more time in the water than we could by using conventional diving technology, while also providing the opportunity to live under-freaking-water!
So, over the next few weeks I’ll be hi-jacking the blog from time to time to write about the training, science and experience of being trapped in a steel tube with 5 other people for a week.
If you’re one of Nate’s regular readers, you probably wont see anything on R, Python, or any other programming languages from me, sorry. On the bright side, I won’t be posting any pictures of my dog either.