NURP provides technical diver training to the National
Marine Sanctuary Program
This story entered on 10th Mar, 2008 11:04:48 AM
NOAAs Undersea Research Program (NURP), National Undersea
Research Center (NURC) at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington
(UNCW) supported a two weeks training for four scientists from the
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM). With over 95
percent of the PMNM located in water deeper than 130 feet, an understanding
of the Monuments resources requires the use and development
of methods to reach the depths beyond those of traditional SCUBA
diving limited to 130 feet.
Participating Monument scientist included Research Coordinator
Randy Kosaki, Maritime Archaeologist Kelly Gleason, Research Specialist
Elizabeth Keenan and Field Operations Specialist Joe Chojnacki lead
by Instructors Doug Kesling and Scott Fowler at the NURC facility
in Key Largo, Florida. Technical training focused on skill sets
to establish the Monuments capacity to execute missions in
what Kosaki describes as the no mans land between the
realms of SCUBA diving and submersible diving research expeditions.
Scientists working in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands see this
range between 130-300 feet as the new frontier for coral reef research,
as this critical reef habitat extends as deep as 300 feet in the
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
In addition to the dive training operations, the mission provided
the opportunity for all Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS)
technical divers to come together at the NURC Key Largo facility.
Maritime Heritage Coordinator Tane Casserley, Thunder Bay National
Marine Sanctuary Deputy Superintendent Russ Green, and Grays
Reef National Marine Sanctuary Research Coordinator Greg McFall
joined daily dive operations for proficiency technical dives and
the documentation of two deep shipwreck sites in the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary. Casserley said, These proficiency
dives have given NOAA maritime archaeologists an unprecedented opportunity
to survey the shipwreck Northern Light, which now lies in 190 feet
of water in FKNMS but previously had a long history as a freighter
on the Great Lakes. The Northern Lights sister ship, the Grecian,
is now a shipwreck within the Thunder Bay NMS, and this survey has
allowed NOAA the chance to study the level of preservation of two
similar ships in totally different environments.
The NURC Key Largo technical dive training, proficiency dives,
and maritime archaeological documentation from February 18-29 provided
the first opportunity for all ONMS technical divers to converge
and discuss the potential for future partnership and collaboration
for deep diving efforts in the Sanctuaries.
Greg McFall, who is taking a lead on formalizing a technical diving
component within the sanctuary program, says that the level
of expertise and professional training provided by NURC/UNCW is
unrivaled in its scope and capacity to enable researchers to safely
reach depths beyond normal diving limits. There are many questions
related to the resources protected by Sanctuaries which can be answered
by gaining access to these depths; NURC/UNCW provides the mission
critical capacity to make it possible.
In addition to the Monument team, the training in Key Largo became
a launching point for the development of a larger team within the
Sanctuary Office to address the need for a deep diving contingent
in the Sanctuaries.
Name: Thomas A Potts
Tel: (910) 962-2442