Michael Phillips is a scuba technician and archaeological diver for Tidewater Atlantic Research in Washington, N.C. He is the operations and communications specialist at Aquarius, where a team of six aquanauts will spend nine days in the underwater laboratory 63 feet below the ocean’s surface in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Thursday, 15 Jun 2000

CONCH REEF, Fla

CONCH REEF, Fla. Dive. Eat. Sleep. Eat Again. Dive some more. That pretty much sums up our daily routine down here.

Like many field research projects, the success of our work will largely be the product of stamina and willpower. As much as all of us love underwater science, it is still painfully difficult to leave the moderately warm, dry environment of Aquarius and climb into a wet wetsuit at dawn. Research opportunities like this are few and far between, however, so we take advantage of every allowable moment to spend in the water.

Today, we continued an active schedule of water nutrient sampling and current measurements. The pulses of cold water that are the focus of this study appear to be occurring with greater frequency and variability. We saw some large stingrays, green moray eels, and eagle rays. Our dive teams are alternating their excursions, with one team leaving early and one team finishing up late, so the four of us really didn’t see a lot of each other until dinner at about 9 p.m.

Our Aquarius technicians played some music on an underwater speaker called a hydrophone. Sound carries remarkably well under water. Chuck Berry never sounded so good. You should have seen us dancing at 105 feet below the surface of the ocean.

Tomorrow we will begin collecting data at a new research area.