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September 9, 2010

Oceana Divers Explore Life Under Gulf Oil Rig

In today’s update from the boat, expedition leader Xavier Pastor discusses the preparations for the next leg of the journey, and the divers’ exploration of the waters beneath one of the gulf’s myriad oil rigs.

It’s incredible to think about communities of marine life living in the shadows of oil rigs, isn’t it?

Have a burning question about our ongoing expedition in the gulf? Ask it in the comments!

Here’s Xavier:

Tuesday, 9/7/10

The Latitude is like an anthill. There’s a crane working on deck to remove some of the materials that were used in the last stage of the expedition: anchors, compressors, chains, ropes, buoys…

Part of the Oceana crew is also packing their bags in order to make room for the new members of the expedition who are slowly making their way to the boat.

The frenetic activity on-board is slowed only by the heat. It’s so hot, and the humidity is so high, that even the boat’s operators have to stop and drink water to avoid dehydration.

We’ve divided ourselves in groups to go to into town and buy some of the things we’ll need for the next leg of the journey. The ROV is being installed: cables, monitors, and boxes have invaded the main room. We have to connect everything and make sure it all works.

As night approaches, work on deck continues. When we can barely see, we leave the final tasks for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9/8/10

We get up early since there is still so much to do. The days in port are all similar: a lot of preparations and logistics. But today the divers will dive at one of the hundreds of oil rig platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. More specifically, they will be about 30 miles from where we are now in Gulfport, Mississippi. It will take them about five hours to go and come back.

As soon as we hear the sound of the Oceana Longitude we head out to greet our divers. We’re anxious to hear what they say about diving in this particular environment: the water was very green, there were no corals and very few sponges. Nevertheless, they did see many fish including red snapper, grouper and angelfish.

Although we could see the fatigue in their faces, they still had energy to show us some of the beautiful images they captured: