Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Day 3 Aquarius

Day Three
 The weather is still too bad to go out and dive. There are two tropical storms
Gaston and Hermine as well as Tropical depression 9 hanging out around Flordia making the waves swell. As of this moment, the waves are 8 feet high every 5 seconds.

Today insstead of going out diving, we took advantage of the time to practice working with all the hoses and valves on double tanks. We learned what to do if something leaks air or breaks. This included how to get back to the habitat sharing air with and without our facemasks on. This will be a lot harder in the water.

We then went outside, because it stopped raining for a bit,and worked on how to use lead lines to work away from the habitat. There are several bright yellow nylon ropes that lead away from the habitat that are anchored to the sea floor. The ropes are about four feet off the ground so you can see them. You are supposed to follow the ropes out and back so you don't get lost. (See picture at bottom of post.)

 If you have to go away from the main ropes, we use leader lines (like big fishing reels) to attach to the main rope and then go off on an angle to what you want to look at.  In these pictures, we are tieing the lines off to rocks so it does not "drift off" as it will in the water later. If you get lost down there it is a BAD thing. Because we are pressured at 50', we can not come up without being decompressed. You will get very hurt if you have to pop up to the top. More about that in a minute.

Finally, we learned how to fill a last chance floating help indicator. This is like a ballon that you inflate that pops to the surface to let the topside emergency divers know you need help. They then come down to help you. This will look much better when we practice under water.

Ok back to what happens if you surface without going through 17 hours of recompression.You get to go in one of the hyperbaric chambers. They place you inside the one on the boat first, they can increase the pressure to equal the undersea pressure you were at before the emergency. They will also have medical person inside with you to help you.


When they get you to shore, they move you to a bigger chamber inside the building at the base.

I plan to avoid both places....

I am still practicing my rope signals. This is a way to communicate with divers and top side crew by pulliung on a rope in certain patterns. I have to pass this in order to go down. Yes, I have to take tests too.
This is a model of the aquarius habitat.

This is a cross section of the teather from the top bouy to the habitat. It carries electricity, communications, and air down to the habitat.

As we wait for the weather, we are constantly rechecking how the science plan will change with the possibly less time. This is our map where sonar, cameras, and algae trays will be placed. The straight lines are the guide ropes that I talked about earlier. The yellow oblong object is the lab. The yellow round object is the noise maker we are using to test to see if certain noises bring in more sharks.

The blacklines going fromthe bottom left to the top right show changes in water depth. Where the black ines are really close together show cliffs or steep drop offs. Look really close at the one in the upper right!
The points all the way to the bottom of the map are 120-130 feet down!

Hoping for better weather tomorrow. 
Miss all of you!

Day Two Aquarius

Today was a long day. We studied how to escape from the habitat in different types of emergencies. This included fire and loss of power. No Mr. Peek drill though.  We had to be able to tell where emergency flashlights were located as well as portable breathing devices. These are all over the habitat in special places to be easily accessible wherever you are in the Hab.

Day Two

We started practicing with a double scuba tank setup. These are new to me but give double the air.  They weigh about 100 pounds each.

 We also worked on emergency procedures in case someone gets hurt both in the water and in the Hab. This includes how to share your own air with another person by switching off the mouth piece. This has to be done with masks on and with them off.  The salt water really stings.

 We are also leaning to tie different knots. I feel like a Boy Scout again. Additionally, we have to learn how to use certain rope tugs to communicate with the surface. They do get a bit confusing at the moment.

  The weather is keeping us from diving too much but we hope tomorrow we get to go back out and practice.  We can't go down to the habitat until we pass all the tests.  This includes a HUGE math test with many tables to use to get information.  Getting a problem wrong on these means you could die.  I show all my work!!!! I also double and triple check everything.  Hint....hint

Finally, all the scientists and I got to go over how the experiments will be conducted. It was very fun to see how they followed the scientific method to develop their plans to collect the data. I am hoping for lots of sharks!

Missing all of you!

If you go to google maps and type in Aquarius reef base, you can "walk" around and go up inside the habitat!!!

Aquarius Day 1

Day one

    We had to do a swim test today. I had to tread water for 10 minutes. Then I had to swim 400 yards (up and down twice on a football field) in 12 minutes. Finally, I had to swim underwater on one breath for 25 yards. I was tired!

   We then had hours of safety briefings, where we learned about how the habitat works and what the science team is trying to accomplish. The3re are three experiments going on at the same time.  The first one concerns how microscopic algae grow in coral reefs. The second experiment is trying to find out how sharks and the coral reef work together as in food webs and human impact. The third experiment is about the sharks themselves. They are using different sounds to see if they attract sharks to a certain area. Kind of like a duck call for sharks….. J

   After lunch, I had to dive to show that I could take off put back on my mask underwater. I also had to demonstrate that I could share air with someone. Finally, I had to drag an “unconscious” diver 50 yards to a boat. I did get a break when the other diver had to pull me…lol.
Tomorrow we start training with two air tanks at one time. This thing weighs over 100 pounds on your back!!

    What is so cool is that the NASA astronauts just finished training here. Hopefully, I get to meet some when they come back for their equipment!

More tomorrow!

Love and miss all of you....especially Mrs. Bartnick!!
Mr. Bartnick