Friday, December 24, 2010

Getting ready for driving the Gulf of Mexico coastline

Well the thought of driving from Santa Barbara all the way along the Gulf of Mexico coastline to Clearwater Florida is both daunting and intriguing at the same time. Why are we driving? Well we want to get the best coverage possible and flying from point to point just won't accomplish that quite as intimately as being there and seeing it all from the ground.

So what do we need to do to prepare for such a journey? A portable refrigerator would sure be nice along with a second floor living accomodations. Living accomodations on a car? For 3 people? Is that possible... Believe it or not solutions like this exist! Ok what about a shower? Bathroom...whoah ok slow down, next thing you'll be doing is asking for the Kitchen sink!

Here's a better question can we do this ALL GREEN, Eco friendly...I think so! So we'll be looking at solutions and your suggestions for our film crew's long road trip to bring this compelling documentary to you at home! Send us your comments on this one, we really need your advice!

hmmm what about a solar shower?

Cape Cod Times article on our trip aboard ATLANTIS

Courtesy of WHOI
 One of the scientists we were privileged to work with, Tim Shanks, played a key role in the investigation of the ocean floor. Here's an article that sums up pretty well what we did and what we found. That picture you see in the article is a frame grab from Mike deGruys footage as you can clearly see an HMI light in the left manipulator hand of Alvin.  We came up with a better light configuration for Alvin and this shot clearly demonstrates the added capability we achieved for lighting the subjects deep under the sea.

Tim Shanks inside ALVIN DSV. 
Photo H.Rabin
For a little more on Tim Shanks discovery that helped change the way we view deep sea life forever, check out his audio interview with WGBH host Mindy Todd right here!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Staying safe in contaminated waters

Well we are definitely concerned about our health when we set off in January diving and filming in and around Oil Rigs, river mouths, estuaries, remote barrier islands and other places that may be harboring oil and dispersants. So precautions and research are underway to insure we stay healthy.

So most important on our list will be our choice of diving gear that will help to isolate us from these caustic substances. Scubapro is at the top of our list when it comes to innovative and dependable gear. Their new semi drysuits are a bridge between the conventional drysuit and wetsuit. We will be working closely with them to test these new materials and make sure we create an isolation layer between ourselves and any oil or dispersants we may encounter.

 The Scubapro Novascotia 6.5 semi-dry suits are not like any wetsuit we have ever seen before! The traditional bulky hard to put on and hard to maneuver in is the typical drysuit that we have been accustomed to over the years. As for head gear well looks like Scubapro has that covered too. Used by the military and commercial divers their full faced mask will keep us safe from contaminated waters.

As soon as we get this all dialed in we will take a close look at the gear we put together to keep us out of harms way right here on the blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The submarine briefing

Ok so I actually got to go inside Alvin several times in preparation for my dive. On my last visit inside I received a full briefing from one of Alvin's pilots Dave!

Now Dave actually spent 5 years with the Navy and in submarines! As soon as he got out he was immediately attracted to the idea of diving in the Alvin DSV so off he went to Woodshole Oceanographic Institute to get his training and become a member of the elite Alvin team.

Dave covered emergency procedures in the event of a fire or complete loss of power. He also went over Radio procedures and the T Bar. The T bar is the last resort and believe me your in for one heck of a ride if you have to resort to it. What it does is to basically release the almost seven foot diameter Titanium sphere from the frame of Alvin. You the begin your ascent and it can be like the inside of a washing machine as it tumbles on your way up to the surface! Unfortunately I missed out going down with Alvin but Mike deGruy went down twice!

However I have been promised that when the new Alvin is ready about 1 1/2 years from now I will be heading down inside it with a WHOI scientist named Tim Shanks.  I'm counting the days for that adventure!

Next post we'll talk with Mike and get his take on the Alvinn dives he took down to the bottom in search of the oil from the DEEPWATER Horizon spill!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

GRAND Isle not so Grand anymore

Well there will be a lot more information coming over the next 30 days regarding our 10 days aboard the Atlantis but need to wait for the show to air before we can release the stories along with the images. I can tell you that we worked 20 hour days for almost 20 days to get the unique footage and perspective of what it's like to be aboard one of the leading research vessels in the world along with leading scientists amidst a crisis of incalculable proportion. 205 million gallons of OIL!Where it is and it's impact will be revealed here and only here in first hand never seen before footage very soon.

So this brings me to my 2 day trip to Grand Isle to talk to some of the locals and get their viewpoint and insight to the mess at hand.

From Wikipedia:
Grand Isle is a town in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, located on a barrier island of the same name in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is at the mouth of Barataria Bay where it meets the gulf. As of the 2000 census, the town population was 1,541; during summers, the population has increased to over 20,000. Grand Isle is part of the New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Grand Isle's only land connection to the mainland is via an automobile causeway bridge, near the west end of the island, which connects it to southern Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. To reach the rest of Jefferson Parish by roadway, one has to travel through two different parishes (Lafourche and St. Charles) through a total distance of about 95 miles (153 km).

 I drove past many fishing docks and quaint little communities with the ocean usually in view from either side of the roadway. So why Grand Isle? Well mainly because it was pretty much ground zero for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill! Most of that crude that got away on top headed right for Grand Isle and hit with a vengeance.  Many of the long time residents of this beautiful community are outraged over what happened. Eight months after the spill, oil is still hitting it's coastline with the high tide like clock work every single night.

Mike deGruy is working now editing the documentary and as soon as it's done we will post information here so you can see and hear the incredible stories that unfolded in the brief time we were there. Keep an eye on on this blog for a release date.

More to come I just need a couple days to re-cooperate!       : >)  ZZzzzzzzz