Sunday, April 22, 2007

Excitement!

Having congregated in one of our rooms after an amazing dinner of turkey, roast beef, steamed asparagus, mashed potatoes, salad, croissants and cheese cake ... several of us noticed the ship had stopped. Hmm, this is not normal, but no one seemed to be alarmed so we went to investigate. I quickly made my way to the bow where a small group had gathered. What were they doing? It seems that after miles and miles of empty ocean, we had come across something new...

It appears to be the float assembly from a large oceanographic instrument array. Each of these twelve yellow plastic shells contains a single tempered glass ball nearly a foot in diameter and designed to withstand the tremendous pressures at the bottom of the ocean ... nearly 14,000 pounds per square inch. Each glass ball is made of two hemispheres and is perfectly round. The smallest imperfection could cause it to implode, creating a shock wave that could shatter the others.

After several minutes of observation we decided not to pick them up as it looked like something was still attached. We didn't want to risk getting the ship's propellers tangled and whatever was attached might easily take up the entire back of our ship. Generally these float assemblies are used as part of large oceanographic arrays to study temperature, currents, seismic events, or any number of other oceanographic parameters. Typically there is a large anchor on the sea-floor to which a release mechanism is attached. Above the release is the instrument package and above that is the float assembly. When oceanographers are done taking measurements they can trigger the release and the floats bring the instrument to the surface. It takes a long time for them to come up from the bottom of the ocean and it looks like these may have gotten lost on their way up.

3 Comments:

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Dad said...

I don't suppose there's a reward....

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger oceanben said...

Evidently each float is in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars so we actually gave this some fairly serious consideration. However, we were unable to see any identiying marks using fairly powerful binoculars. We recorded the position of the floats and sent the information back to the mainland in case anyone is missing them.

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

howzit hiialakai (ben)....it's jonathan from the mapping center saying aloha....see you guys soon!

 

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