My blood runs red but my body feels so cold
I guess I could swim for days in the salty sea
But in the end the waves will discolor me"
- "Organs" by Of Monsters and Men
Friends, I haven't told you this yet, but in addition to my experiments, I'm learning how to SCUBA dive this summer. It's a skill that will be highly advantageous for my research. As a diver, I'll be able to reach a whole new set of habitats, filling in the gap between shallow docks and the deep sea.
The training for scientific diving is much more intense than for recreational diving. I started by taking a course on diving physics, physiology, and basic skills. Classroom days alternated with practice in the pool, and after a month, I've finally moved up to open-water training. Last Friday, my dive buddy and I had a unique challenge. We had to disassemble and reassemble a flange underwater, to simulate a working scientific dive. The task was simple but actually quite challenging, because everything is slightly more complicated underwater. The visibility was very low, and at 25 feet (8 m) depth, it was actually pretty dark. Red and orange wavelengths don't penetrate far in the ocean, so everything looks bluish green at depth. My buddy and I also couldn't speak to one another, so nonverbal communication was key. We had to maintain position in the water column and be extra careful not to drop any pieces, because hardware sinks immediately.
I have to admit, I was pretty proud of how well we worked together. It took us the full alloted time to complete the task, but we didn't drop anything!
The video below was shot by our dive supervisor, Giorgio. It shows my dive buddy and me getting ready to remove a rubber gasket from one side of the flange. We had to rotate out the rubber disc and then secure the two metal sides with a bolt. As you can tell, everything takes longer underwater. I'm the one with the sparkly white gloves!