Gray's Reef Expedition 2004

Daily At-Sea Logs


Monday, May 10, 2004

It’s 1925 (…that’s 7:25 PM for you landlubbers) and I am coming to you from Mess Hall of the NOAA ship Nancy Foster.

My name is Elizabeth Rogers and I was asked to be your guide through this incredible research journey into Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. I am part of a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Aeronautics and Aerospace Administration (NASA), and the University of Georgia. Each member from these agencies and organizations plan to employ different kinds of instruments to collect data in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) off of the coast of Sapelo Island, Ga. Joining me on this cruise are Mr. Greg McFall, Dr. George Sedberry, Mr. Mark Grace, Dr. Daniela Di Iorio, Mr. Glenn Taylor and Dr. Grant Gilmore. Also accompanying us on this cruise are Marion Beal, Katherine Doyle, Laura Kracker, Dave Grenda, and Athan Barkoukis. (Don’t worry; you’ll meet each of these scientists later on this week as the research progresses.) Over the course of the next nine days, I hope to give you an idea for the kinds of research being done in GRNMS, as well as the myriad of techniques that scientists use to collect data.

Let’s begin…

Once we left the Charleston Harbor and headed south, the Chief Scientist, Mr. Greg McFall from NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, brought everyone in our science party together so that we might become acquainted with each other. Since we will be working very closely together over the next week and a half, it is important that each of us be familiar with work the others will be doing on the boat. Additionally, we were all briefed on the safety protocols on the ship.

Following this overview, Greg called an executive meeting among all of the science directors on board whereby each member communicated his or her objectives for this cruise. Believe it or not, each science director has their own unique research plan to carry out once inside the sanctuary. They intend on using different instruments that collect very different kinds of data; and on top of that, each member is using a variety of methods. So guess what! No two directors are doing the same research. This is where the research gets pretty complicated.

As you can see, communication is an essential component of the scientific process before any research program begins and this is especially true with our leg. Greg wants to ensure that time and personnel are maximized during our time out at Gray’s Reef. As each director emphasized the spatial and temporal aspects of their proposed plan, Greg attentively worked and reworked plans to enable each person to accomplish their research goals, while keeping the best interest of the entire scientific research team in mind. This is not an easy job since each member has brought aboard their high tech, and very expensive, instruments that all work to capture different kinds of data along different time frames.

By the end of the meeting, it was settled! We will collect data from
10 stations in each of two different areas within Gray’s Reef: one area has high recreational use, while the other is not used as often. Sampling will occur around the clock and will involve a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), wire fish traps, video data loggers, and passive acoustic loggers, in addition to observations made by scuba-divers.

It looks like we have an ambitious research program ahead of us. Tomorrow, when I return, I will send you information about one of the many instruments that the scientists are using. Stay tuned…

Signing off,





Ph. 843-953-7263
Project Oceanica
Dept. of Geology & Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Fax 843-953-7850