Hello, fellow ocean enthusiasts! We’re thrilled to share some exciting field notes from our recent adventure at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Join us as we take a closer look at our “working” trip with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), where we delved deep into the heart of the ocean to perform essential maintenance and explore the wonders of the deep blue.
Our Daring Crew, Boosting Operational Capacity, and Key Triumphs!
Representing the Moody Gardens Dive Program on this incredible journey were scientific divers and dive officers Chris Ledford, Aaron Bouwkamp, and Elisabeth Maxwell. These seasoned divers were more than ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead. Under the guidance of NOAA, strict commercial diving standards are required to ensure safety and success in our underwater mission.
One thing that didn’t go unnoticed was the significant impact our participation had on the trip’s operational capacity. Our team’s expertise and dedication brought an extra layer of efficiency to the mission, making each dive and task more productive. Though our main goal is to support efforts in a safe and productive manner, we really enjoyed seeing the success unfold!
Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of our accomplishments during this unforgettable trip:
- Anchors Away: One of our primary objectives was to replace worn out moorings with brand-new mooring buoy U-bolts. We helped successfully install not one, but two, of these essential components, ensuring the mooring system’s reliability and strength. These U-bolts are crucial for securing vessels and equipment during various underwater operations for the sanctuary, as well as providing public access!
- A Temporary Solution: In the world of marine exploration, flexibility is key. We faced unexpected challenges, including the need for a “temporary” mooring anchor. With expert precision from the sanctuary team, an implemented and rigorously tested solution was found! Photo 1 in our gallery offers a sneak peek into our ingenious dry-side mockup of the temporary mooring system.
Why are mooring buoys important to the Flower Gardens Banks you ask? First, it’s important to know anchoring in the FGBNMS is strictly prohibited because it is incredibly damaging to coral reefs. Mooring buoys play a crucial role in the health and preservation of ocean environments because they provide a means of accessing a beautiful area like the FGBNMS without having to anchor. This provides a huge protection to coral reefs and established habitats and gives access while minimizing damage, reducing chemical pollution, enhancing safety, promoting sustainable tourism, and fostering environmental awareness. You can learn more about them here: https://flowergarden.noaa.gov/protection/mooringbuoys.html
Teamwork for the Win
Our adventure at the Flower Garden Banks was nothing short of extraordinary. While we faced some unexpected challenges, the spirit of exploration and teamwork prevailed. To date, our dive team has supported 31 missions for NOAA’s FGBNMS since 2013 and has helped with the installation of six mooring buoys with plans to continue supporting future efforts!
We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the entire Dive Operations team for their dedication and commitment to ocean conservation and exploration. Stay tuned for more thrilling underwater escapades as we continue to explore the mysteries of the deep and work tirelessly to protect our precious marine ecosystems thanks to support like yours!
Until next time, dive deep, dream big, and make waves! 🌊🐟🦑
– Moody Gardens Dive Ops