Louisiana fieldwork

I went on a trip to Louisiana with my research group recently. We were retrieving some instruments that had been sitting in the Gulf for about 2 months. Data to be analyzed later. Data intended to be collected: pressure, and current speed & direction, and tilt of the sensors.

The retrieval went well, we got back all 15 remaining instruments. One had been run over by a trawler and got lost. We retrieved all 15 in about 4 hours, which was great. We’d scheduled 5 boat days and expected 2, but it only took one. Good for science, bad for sitting on boats.

Here’s the boat we went on for the day

Dock and Boat

This is what the instruments looked like after we took them out of the water:

Instruments covered with biofouling

The instruments are covered with barnacles and seaweed. This is despite being painted with anti-biofouling paint before going into the water. There was less seaweed on the painted parts. But it was not anti-barnacle paint apparently.

While picking up one of the instruments, the line got caught on the boat. We had to send down divers.

The water was really really muddy. I was talking to one of the divers after. He said he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face with his flashlight on. They had to untangle and cut lines by feel. We were pretty sure we lost that instrument. But! they rescued it.

Another instrument came up covered with mud:

muddy instrument

We narrowly refrained from having a mud fight, but put on some war paint. All the instruments had some mud, but this had the most. This is not such a good sign for quality of the data. After we look at the data we’ll know better if this was in there the whole time, but in the meantime, we’re hoping the mud was collected during instrument retrieval–that we dragged it while picking it up.

After retrieving the instruments we spent a couple days taking them apart and cleaning them, so they’d smell less bad when we shipped them.

Here’s me cleaning a $400 cable:

Vera cleaning a cable

The instruments are behind me. They’ve been taken off their heavy bases. That boat is some other boat at the dock, unrelated to the project. I’m squinting because the sun is bright.

There was a lot of cleaning to do. I got sunburnt. Which was kinda nice for a change from freezing cold New England weather.

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