Cady Coleman waves from the bottom of the sea during a training session for the
NEEMO 7 project. |
7, Mike Barratt
Day 3, Wednesday, October 6, 2004
Day Three, and we have further expanded our comfort zones. Otter
(Mark Hulsbeck when he signs his checks, but pretty much Otter the
rest of the time) and Ross went over the unlikely habitat emergencies
and how we would recover. We also did land exercises to simulate
finding the excursion lines which run out in several directions
from the habitat, should we ever become separated in low visibility
or in the event of a dive mask loss or failure. Then back to the
vessel Research Diver while toting gear and shedding crumbs from
the sandwiches we inevitably grab on the fly.
it; our first dive consisted of a mask-off drill where a twosome,
myself and crewmate Cady Coleman, had to tie off a reel and sweep
out a big circle until we intercepted one of the excursion lines.
Traversing a reef without a mask is not so bad, if you don't mind
swimming through a Picasso painting looking for something that's
more usable than artistic. At one time I started to swim toward
what I thought was one of the floats which keeps the excursion lines
off the bottom, but gave this up when it swam away. But we eventually
stumbled onto the yellow line, and a few feet along the length identified
one of the large orange arrows with the definitively palpable shape
pointing toward the habitat. A quick point of the arm to indicate
"that way," and we were awarded our masks back. A handshake
from Otter meant that our chances of surviving the mission had just
increased another few percent.
After a few
more shut-off drills and buddy breathing exercises (why did I even
bring that dive mask?), Cady and I were treated to a quick trip
down the excursion from the training area toward Aquarius Central.
It was nearly prophetic to see that yellow structure materialize
out of the murk, nearly enveloped in a cloud of colorful fish who
love living on the outside. I, of course, can't wait to live on
the inside, although our crew is not nearly so picturesque. Another
five days to splashdown, so we will have to be patient for now.
We had an
evening lecture on coral reefs and methods of measuring size and
characteristics in specific areas, part of the on-going study of
the Conch Reef that surrounds the Aquarius Habitat. The stick-with-you
quote of the day from Leanne, the coral scientist, "Keep your
eyes open; you never know what might be spawning out there!"
Will do. Hope we can bring back some useful science for these folks.