Descending into the Ocean Depths
was lowered off the back deck into the sea, there was a flurry of activity outside the sub as divers hurriedly unhooked the ropes finally disconnecting Alvin from the ship. After a few moments getting permission to dive and completing last minute safety checks we were on our way down. It took approximately 30 minutes to reach the 775 meter (a little over 2,300 feet) seafloor bottom. During our descent into the darkness we past through a layer of bioluminescent creatures, our pilot, Bruce Strickrott, flashed his exterior lights on and off a few times and instructed me to look out the window, and to my amazement the creatures responded back by flashing like we were. We were joking with each other that the creatures must think we are some sort of king creature in their realm. As we continued down you could see various particles floating down towards the seafloor, it looked like a gentle snowfall on a winters day. The entire experience of the trip down was extremely quiet and peaceful. As we continued to look out of our respective windows, the ocean floor slowly came into view as we had at last reached our destination. Alvin
Time to Work
Once we reached the seafloor, it was time to start our work. We had a set list of dive tasks given to us the night before by the Chief Scientist so we set out right away to complete our goals. We worked very hard right away, deploying scientific experiments, checking experiments that had been deployed on previous dives, gathering samples of bacteria-covered rocks, sediment core samples, and anything that looked like it would be of interest to any of the scientists on board. We started out in an area known as the Pinnacle, which looks like a 150 foot tall mountain on the seafloor. After exploring this area for awhile, we moved to a place that resembled rolling plains. During this entire trip, I was surprised at the immense variety of creatures that are able to survive at these depths. I assumed that I would see a few different species scattered here and there, but I observed purple-colored eels, large spider crabs, multiple species of smaller crabs, a type of rock fish, and another type of fish I was unfamiliar with, Sea Anemones, and much more. As we completed our tasks I did not have time to think about how long we had been down until the pilot said that we were done and were scheduled to start our ascent. It was hard to believe we had been submerged nearly eight hours!