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You are here: /main/research expeditions/August/September 2007/Canadians

Day 5 - Canadians get pressurized
Wednesday, August 29

by Carlie Wiener

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Zodiac and steel toe
The boats which will be used for the daily scuba diving excursions, Carlie Wiener.

Another day at sea begins, and it is becoming more apparent that everyone is antsy and ready to get into the water. Tomorrow will be the first day we will launch the dive boats as we are expected to arrive at Pearl and Hermes Atoll later this evening. The ship has four boats that it will deploy for the research teams including one zodiac, one steel tow boat and two jet boats. The planning for the dive trips is important as it helps to inform the crew of the order to launch the boats. This morning a few scientists including myself were fortunate enough to be invited to practice using the decompression chamber.

Team Canada in the chamberThe two Canadians take a ride in the decompression chamber to 60 feet, Derek Smith.

Three of us got to go into the chamber and descend to 60 feet. It was really neat, as I have never been in one and wanted to see how it felt. Surprisingly, you need to clear your ears quite frequently, as the pressure is much more noticeable in the chamber.  It gets very warm when they are bringing you to 60 feet, and then cool again on the way up. It was quite funny when voices went Mickey Mouse like while we sat in the chamber. The pressure in the decompression chamber makes voices very high.

The decompression chamber
Operating the dive chamber and practicing safety skills, Derek Smith.

This afternoon everyone on the ship began to prepare their dive gear, rinsing in a solution before depositing it into Monument waters. This is an essential process as it is important that no foreign species are introduced to the area. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is a pristine area with an abundance of unspoiled coral reef, the smallest introduction could cause potentially disasters consequences. This is why the strongest precautionary measures must be taken.

Preparing dive gear
Cleaning and preparing the dive gear for tomorrows excursions, Carlie Wiener.

For scientist to participate on the research expedition, they must prepare an intensive research plan and fill out permit applications. The applications are reviewed by the co-trustees before anyone is given clearance to participate. The scientist also must provide a health clearance and up to date scuba diving certifications. In the evening, everyone is found at the dive lockers preparing their equipment and laying out their equipment and gear for tomorrow’s dives. It is really important to be organized the night before as the teams want to maximize their time out on the water. Everyone heads to their quarters fairly early, as tomorrow we embark on our first boat excursion in the Monument. From the NOAA Ship Hi‘ialakai a hui hou!

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Coral bleaching

Galapagos shark

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