Saturday, May 24, 2014

2 fine days on the atoll

Pat and Austin happy to be on Dongsha!
Spirits were high as we arrived on Dongsha Atoll three days ago. Waiting for us as we got off the plane were three bicycles. The island is small enough to bike across in 3 minutes, but it sure beats walking!

Our first two days on Dongsha Atoll have gone remarkably well. Our first objective was to deploy a series of instruments across the reef to characterize water chemistry and the physics of water flowing over the reef (more on this later). We would have been pleased to accomplish this in the first week, but by the end of our first day all the instruments were in the water.

Some of our instruments ready to go in the ocean
The next step was to build a tower out on the reef. The reef itself all just barely below the surface of the ocean, but our distributed temperature sensor (DTS) needs a platform for an electronics box and a solar panel. Our solution? Build a scaffolding tower out on the reef. Assembling scaffolding underwater on SCUBA is not easy. Luckily, some researchers from the National Sun Yat-sen University and staff at the National Marine Park of Dongsha were interested in what we are doing and offered to help. A few hours later, we have a dry platform on the reef!

So far Tom, Pat, and Austin are on Dongsha. Kristen, Katie, and Aryan arrive on Thursday. We are accomplishing a lot now, but we will need everyone once we begin deploying our larger instruments: the DTS and our remote access sampler (RAS) - an automatic sampler that collects seawater samples for 4 days.

Instruments deployed on the reef measuring temperature
and salinity (left), pressure (right), and we are deploying an
instrument to measure pH (upper right).
Heading out shortly for another day of difficult (but very fun) research!

- Tom DeCarlo
Joint Program in Oceanography
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Our scaffolding tower rising out of the water. Our research
vessel Atoll-2 is in the background.

Staff of the Marine National Park help us load scaffolding on Atoll-2

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