Monday May 23, 2005

Hello from Gray’s Reef, Leg III of the 2005 Gray’s Reef Expedition. My name is Ryan Yaden and I’ll be sending daily logs to the Oceanica site for this leg of the Gray’s Reef expedition. I just graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Marine Biology and look forward to an exciting cruise with many encounters with marine organisms.

Today was the first day at sea for Leg III. We left port in Savannah and traveled down the Savannah River, then out to Gray’s Reef which took about 4.5 hours. We are on the NOAA Ship NANCY FOSTER, with 13 scientists representing NOS/NMS, Georgia Southern, University of AL, and Project Oceancia. On the way out to the reef all of the scientists prepared themselves and the ship for the research about to take place. Preparations involved setting up the aquarium tanks so that live specimens could be collected, and making sure that everything was stowed properly so that it did not move during the voyage. Also everyone was very busy readying their scuba diving gear for the first dive of the cruise.

As with all cruises, safety is a priority. NOAA Corps officer, Ensign Tracy Hamburger gave us all a safety briefing after which we had a fire drill and an abandon ship drill.

When we finally reached the reef we ‘hit the sea running’ and got the divers in the water. Unfortunately, there was a very strong current, and one team of divers was not successful in reaching the moored buoy that marks the portion of the reef being studied. A second dive team was successful. The reef at the buoy has low relief (about one to two feet) and consists of mostly sponges and tunicates. Surprisingly enough they did find many large fish, such as scamp and gag grouper as well as two large nurse sharks.

Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to bring in some live invertebrate specimens and some photographs of the reef.

Until tomorrow,

Ryan Yaden



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