Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hannah Lyons - Week 4

This week, to practice for future SMURFing trips, we went to the aquarium and tested out our snorkeling skills. With the help of the lovely aquarium dive instructors we got all geared up in our wetsuit, hood, gloves, booties, fins and mask. We spent about 30 minutes in the Halibut Flats exhibit swimming with Canary Rockfish, Vermilion Rockfish, China Rockfish, Sturgeon, Halibut, Longnose skate, Cabezon, Lingcod and others. The aquarium staff asks that none of the visiting snorkelers reach out and touch the fish but some of the fish will come right up to you! The water was about 53 degrees Fahrenheit so we kept moving to keep warm and waved to the aquarium visitors in the underwater tunnels below. We made sure we could take our mask and fins off and back on safely while in the water to prepare for a possibly turbulent snorkel in the ocean. After the Halibut Flats we were able to go into a tank that is divided by a plexiglass wall from the shark exhibit. We clung to the wall and Leopard Sharks and Bat Rays nuzzled up against the glass as if they were curious about us! The Broadnose Sevengill Shark nicknamed "Ms. Piggy" because she is the largest at the aquarium, came by too. It was really an amazing experience to be so close to such beautiful animals.

I also was able to accompany our captain, Keith and two of the scuba diving team out on the Shearwater (the boat we use). They were diving down to retreive and replace a CTD device that is anchored to the ocean floor. The CTD measures conductivity, temperature and depth. It is an important tool in monitoring any changes in the water in or around the marine reserve. I was in charge of recording information about the dive and trip on our data sheets and running the computer software that "talks" to the CTD to begin taking samples and retreive data already taken.

It was yet another productive and fun week!
To designate the Shearwater as a research vessel while on the reserve.

Anchored, waiting for divers and watching the cormorants, pelicans and murres.

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