BOLD Research Vessel

On Board the OSV BOLD: Mobilization

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea

February 24, 2008 – 3 p.m. (Day 16)

About the author: Charles LoBue serves as the chief scientist and diver for the US Virgin Island leg of the OSV BOLD voyage. He is an environmental scientist in EPA Region 2 in New York City.

We arrived at our dock in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas after a steaming all night from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fair cruising conditions during the crossing allowed most of us to get a good night’s sleep. We tied up at 6:30 this morning in the Crown Bay Marina, a popular cruise ship port.

image of three people donning gumby-like suitsToday we begin our acclimation to living and working at sea for the next few weeks on the BOLD. A drill had us all assembled on the upper deck prepared to abandon ship. The ship’s crew briefed us in life boat and emergency procedures, including the emergency exposure suit. They’re called “Gumby suits,” and when you see somebody dressed in one, no explanation is needed for that moniker. Those uninitiated to the pleasures of donning a Gumby suit had the privilege of being our Gumby models.

The morning was fast paced, with a series of meetings to discuss daily operations and scientific strategies. It’s very important that we’re all on the same page when coordinating loading 12 scientists and their equipment our three small boats several times a day in a heaving sea. It’s also important that each dive team is performing all the field assessment procedures in a consistent manner.

In the afternoon, we finally got in the water for our first dives. We deployed two boats to a nearby site to stage a series of rehearsal dives to practice the various survey and observation procedures.

underwater image of two divers studying coral reef

All went well, and the day ended with a one-hour science meeting to discuss the trial runs, and to come to consensus on certain details of documenting the observations. Now we’re ready to observe and measure the condition of these coral reefs around St. Thomas and St. John.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: Sunset on the Puerto Rico Survey

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

Feb. 21, 2009 – 6 p.m. (Day 13)

About the Author: Doug Pabst is the chief scientist for the OSV BOLD’s Puerto Rico voyage. He leads the dredging, sediments and oceans team in EPA Region 2, comprising New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

We left Mayaguez yesterday at 6:00 a.m. and headed back to La Parguera to finish the sediment sampling, but the weather was too rough for small boat operations. The combination of the Trade Winds (Trades) and local thermal winds was producing rough seas and winds in excess of 25 knots (29 miles per hour).

The Trades are easterly flowing winds found in the tropics and get their name because of their importance to18th century England’s trade route crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Thermal winds are caused by the sun heating the air causing it to move fast and in some cases furiously. The combination of Trades and thermals made our sampling very difficult as we can only sample during the day with our small boats. Weather was our main obstacle for the survey and seemed to challenge us at every turn.

By 7:30 a.m. today, the Trades and thermal winds had diminished down to less than 10 knots (12 miles per hour). Our two small boats continued working until 9:30 a.m., when the winds picked up to 25 knots (29 miles per hour). Conditions were difficult and we were only able to collect a few more samples. We returned to the OSV BOLD to retrieve the small boats. We left anchor at noon and headed back to the “barn” (the home port of operations) in San Juan. As we left, winds were gusting over 40 knots (46 miles per hour). It’s frustrating when we are unable to achieve all our objectives, but the weather is one variable that is well beyond our control.

Our attention now focuses on de-mobilizing from our two week mission. We’re packing up our sampling equipment, supplies, and samples so they can be shipped back to our base of operations in New Jersey. It’s time to process the information we collected. We achieved most of our objectives, formed new partnerships, and return with high quality data. As the sun sets on our mission, it will rise over the next phase of the OSV BOLD’s Caribbean Mission with a new survey team beginning on February 23 in the Virgin Islands.

image of sunset over waterIt’s hard to say goodbye to paradise, but I leave with the satisfaction that we have collected information that will provide for the further protection of Puerto Rico’s environment for many more sunrises and sunsets.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: Underwater Science

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

About the author: Bill Fisher has worked with EPA’s Office of Research and Development for 18 years. His academic research included environmental studies of several marine invertebrates, including lobsters, crabs, squid and oysters. For the last five years he has worked to improve environmental protection of U.S. coral reefs.

This will be our third survey of coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). The first was in St. Croix where we verified that a new EPA bioassessment method could identify adverse effects of human activity on coral reefs. The next year we applied an Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) ‘probability-survey’ method to determine the condition of reefs island-wide. And now, another year later, we will perform the same survey at St. Thomas and St. John.

It may seem a long time to complete a study, but coral reef research has many challenges—not the least of which is a suitable ship to work from. EPA has a well-equipped research ship, the Ocean Survey Vessel BOLD. She not only provides us berth and board, but has compressors to fill our SCUBA tanks and dive boats that we deploy to our sampling locations. The OSV BOLD is in great demand, so it is fortunate that we are able to work from her even once a year.

The survey itself is not complicated—especially if you were to run it on dry ground. The coral surveyor identifies each coral colony in a 25 square meter transect, measures their size and estimates the percent of live tissue. (Corals are clonal organisms, and colonies can suffer large losses of living tissue without dying). Under water, these observations are more difficult because the surveyor has to maneuver in currents and surge. What’s important is that these three basic underwater observations provide several indicators highly relevant to resource management.

We usually field three dive teams and each surveys two to three stations a day. All too often, it is too windy or there are high rollers (waves) that pose hazards getting in and out of small boats with dive gear. On these days we usually catch up entering data, checking gear and reading emails.

Our ultimate purpose in USVI is to assist in the development of coral reef biocriteria. These are water quality standards developed from indicators of coral condition. The first survey we ran told us that we could use the new bioassessment procedures, and the latter two will establish the baseline condition for coral reefs. USVI will use this baseline condition to establish expectations for reef health in the future.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: Transition

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

About the author: Charles LoBue serves as the chief scientist and diver for the US Virgin Island leg of the OSV BOLD voyage. He is an environmental scientist in EPA Region 2 in New York City.

Feb. 23, 2009 – 3:00 pm (Day 15)

As the Puerto Rico leg of the OSV BOLD’s survey winds down, the U.S. Virgin Islands leg is beginning. We’re staffed, equipped and ready to begin a nearly three-week survey to assess the condition of coral reefs around St. Thomas and St. John. We’ve reassembled this experienced team of divers and scientists to resume the work that began in 2006. Back then, EPA worked with V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) in St. Croix to initiate an inventive new coral monitoring program developed by EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Our team will include divers from EPA, DPNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy.image of side of ship with people on deck

The waters that we are working in this year are new to us, which adds an element of adventure. Our plan is to perform strategic observations and measurements of corals and other biota at 60 stations around the islands. Water and sediment sampling will add to the mix. Each morning, we will assign dive teams to three small boats, which will be dispatched to different observation stations.

image of diver examining coral underwaterHere’s the basic process once we’re in the water. When a dive team arrives at a station, a snorkel reconnaissance is performed to assess whether the site has suitable coral cover. The team then enters the water and lays a 25-meter transect line to mark the domain of the observations. The team then makes a general assessment of the cover types, measures topography, counts other invertebrate species, and collects sediment and water samples throughout the transect area. Coral experts will identify every hard coral colony encountered within a meter of the transect line, measure its dimensions, and judge how much of it is thriving.

image of scientists examining data in the on-board labWhen the team returns to the OSV BOLD, data are entered into a computer for analyses and water samples are processed. This will go on for the duration of the survey.

Sure it may seem to be a cookie-cutter process, but the best laid plans are always at the mercy of the weather and sea condition. Of course, underlying all this field work is the logistics and procedures needed to maintain to safe diving operations. Our challenge is to find and assess 60 suitable stations over some 50 some-odd miles of coast around the two islands and assorted cays. So here’s to blue skies, calm seas, and healthy coral.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: A Science Lesson, Outside the Classroom

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

February 20, 2009 – 8:20 am (Day 12)

In a previous blog titled “52 Ways to Save the Environment, Part II”, I suggested teachers and educators to take their lesson outside of the classroom to put their students in direct contact with nature. Yesterday, around 550 people, including nearly 30 teachers and many students, from the western side of the island came to have a science lesson outside of the classroom during EPA’s Open Ship event in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

image of teens surrounding testing equipmentStudents learned about the ship’s layout and latest technology, and had the opportunity to ask scientists, EPA personnel from the San Juan Office, and University of Puerto Rico professor’s questions. All of us gladly shared our knowledge and experiences and spoke about life aboard the Bold, as well as many of our every day duties as environmental protection professionals.

I wish I had had the opportunity when I was growing up that these students were given yesterday. Science is fascinating even when taught from a book, but it really comes alive when you can see it in action. In most environmental science careers, people get to bring together science and creativity to work towards a greater good, protecting ecosystems and people’s health.

I hope that many of the students that participated in the Open Ship yesterday get a new perspective on science and with our shared experiences pursue a career in the environmental protection field.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: Sediment Sampling in Paradise

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

About the author: Doug Pabst is the chief scientist for the OSV BOLD’s Puerto Rico voyage. He leads the dredging, sediments and oceans team in EPA Region 2, comprising New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Feb. 17, 2009 – 8:00 pm (Day 9)

We left Ponce at 6 a.m. and conducted more bongo net tows several miles offshore of Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. After the tows we proceeded west towards La Parguera to conduct sediment sampling operations.

La Parguera is a small fishing village in the town of Lajas on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. The waters off La Parguera consist of small coral encrusted islands topped with mangroves. It is also home to Phosphorescent Bay, where at night the water will glow brilliantly when disturbed. This is caused by a small organism (a dinoflagellate) that lives in abundance in the area and glows when subjected to movement, similar to a firefly. This place is like paradise, with its natural beauty and picturesque tropical settings. I can see why some license plates here bear the slogan “Island of Enchantment”

We decided to anchor the OSV BOLD and use our smaller rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBS) to conduct the sediment sampling. The OSV BOLD will serve as our platform to process and store the sediment samples. We dropped anchor at approximately 1 p.m.

image of round, flat sieve with grainy sediment in the bottomWe broke up into three teams. Two teams sampled in the RHIBS and one team stayed on board the OSV BOLD to process the sediment samples collected by the other teams. We will analyze the sediment samples of sand, silt and clay for grain size, total organic carbon (TOC), and benthic community analyses (organisms that live at the bottom of the ocean). The grain size and TOC samples are placed into a refrigerator and will be shipped to our lab for analysis. The benthic community samples are placed into a sieve, small round pan with a 0.02 inch (0.5 mm) screen on the bottom.

four specimen jars with pink water and sediment in bottomThe remaining material is gently scooped into a plastic container. The contents are preserved and stained, which allows for easier identification of any organisms. We then wrap electrical tape around the lids to further prevent leakage of the preservative. Our results will be utilized to help better protect and preserve the coral reefs and their associated ecosystems.

We ended the day with additional bongo net tows for marine debris off of Cabo Rojo. We’re schedule to do more bongo net tows at 6 a.m. and arrive at Mayaguez around noon. We will be in Mayaguez the rest of the day on the 18th and open to the public for tours from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on the 19th.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: On Board the OSV Bold

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

About the author: Doug Pabst is the chief scientist for the OSV BOLD’s Puerto Rico voyage. He leads the dredging, sediments and oceans team in EPA Region 2, comprising New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Gone Fishin’

Feb. 13, 2009 – 8:00 pm (Day 5)

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

The crew of the OSV BOLD spent today fishing with University of Puerto Rico (UPR) scientists and students. It’s not what you think; we towed bongo nets—they’re called that because the opening looks like the drums—behind the ship to collect floating marine debris (garbage, plant material, plastic, etc.) and plankton (small animals and algae).

Marine debris is a problem in oceans, coasts and watersheds throughout the world. It can result from human activities anywhere in the watershed, from an overturned trash can many miles from the ocean, or from litter left on a beach. Detergent bottles, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and discarded fishing line can become marine debris. Birds, whales, turtles, dolphins and other marine animals become injured or die by becoming entangled in debris or by confusing it with their natural food.

image of two net shaped like bongo drums skimming the waterTo collect marine debris, the bongo nets are towed through the water at the surface for 30 minutes or longer. We then retrieve the nets onboard and examine the contents. The UPR scientists also collect and preserve animals and algae in the bongo for counting and identification back in their laboratory.

Our first stop was off the north shore by Arecibo. The trade winds continued to blow hard, making our “fishing” all the more difficult. We continued west off the Rincon Lighthouse for more floatable fishing. Here we were more protected from the large ocean swells on the north coast. Several humpback whales appeared out of the water upon our arrival as if to say hi and welcome us to the west coast. Our last fishing stop of the day was off of Mayaguez. The good news, so far, is we found very little garbage. Our main catch was small jellyfish and the blue variety of a little animal called a copepod, which looks like a blue flea. We were treated to a spectacular sunset as we completed operations for the day and sailed east along the south coast towards our next mission off Jobos Bay.

Hunting for Treasure

Feb. 14, 2009 – 6:00 pm (Day 6)

The day started at 5 a.m. in the darkness off the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a chain of 15 tear-shaped mangrove islets known as Cayos Caribe and the Mar Negro area in western Jobos Bay. The Cayos Caribe islets are fringed by coral reefs and sea grass beds with small beach deposits and upland area. The Mar Negro area consists of mangrove forest and complex systems of lagoons and channels interspersed with salt and mud flats.

The reserve is home to the endangered brown pelican, peregrine falcon, hawksbill sea turtle and West Indian manatee. It is commercially important for marine recreation, commercial and recreational fishing and ecotourism. The area is managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and our data will be provided to the two agencies to assist in their management of this important and beautiful area. Our main goal is to map of the seafloor south of the reserve.

image of long, tubular, rocket shaped side scan sonar componentWe towed the side scan sonar, which resembles a small rocket, off the side of the ship. The side scan sonar uses sound waves to detect seafloor types (sand, mud, silt) and objects (coral, rocks, manmade debris, ship wrecks, etc.). With good images you can see sand waves and identify objects about size of a car tire. In order to produce a map of the survey area, we tow the side scan sonar in tightly spaced overlapping lines. We call this mowing the lawn because our survey pattern mimics how you’d typically mow your lawn. Sadly we didn’t find any sunken treasure, but several resident dolphins paid us a visit, which was reward enough.

We left Jobos Bay and conducted several bongo net tows looking for marine debris and marine life on our way to our next port of call in Ponce. We arrived in the Port of Ponce around 9 p.m. to transfer scientific personnel and stayed overnight.

The Midnight Watch

Feb. 17, 2009 – 12:30 am (Day 9)

It’s just after midnight and we’re 20 miles south of La Parguera conducting water column profiles, a series of scans that help create a cross-sectional view of the sea. Our crew, along with University of Puerto Rico (UPR) researchers, is sampling down to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) every two hours and made one profile down to 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). The ship and scientific crew are working around the clock in 24 hour mode (four hours working and eight hours off).

This far out at sea, you are unable to see the lights of land, but the moon is brightly shining. However, by looking out from the opposite side of the ship, staring out into the abyss, you can’t help but be humbled by the stars and seemingly endless ocean night. You tend to get philosophical on the midnight watch. It seems like we left Ponce a week ago, but we only left at 6 a.m. yesterday and have been working out here since about 9 a.m.

image of smpling equipment consisting of several tubular tanks in a round cage-like deviceOur water column profiler consists of an electronics package with many sensors that measure ocean parameters (salt content, temperature, density, depth, dissolved oxygen, and many more) as the instrument is lowered through the water column. Water sampling bottles are placed around the instrument package and allow us to collect water samples at up to 12 different depths. We’re providing ship time to UPR to allow them to collect information to better understand this area of complex ocean water layers.

There are many different layers of water in the deep ocean. Some start in the North or South Pole and slowly work their way deep below the warmer surface water of the Caribbean Sea. The surface temperature in this area starts at 81 degrees Fahrenheit, drops to 41 degrees at 3,280 feet and seems to level off at 39 degrees at 8,200 feet. Cooler water is heavier and sinks below the warmer, lighter water. In addition to using the data to protect the environment, scientists are also studying this layering of ocean water as a potential way to generate energy using the different physical properties of the water layers.

I’m off watch now and getting ready to get some sleep. We plan to tow the bongo nets later today on our return trip to Ponce. We will be transferring scientific personnel and mobilizing for our next adventure off La Parguera later today.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: Textbook to Reality

February 13, 2009 – 11:45 am (Day 5)

About the Author: Beth Totman is a press officer in Region 2, New York City. She covers Superfund, Emergency Response and Pesticides. She’s been with EPA since June 2007.

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

Yesterday’s Open Ship was a huge success. Over 600 schoolchildren and teachers passed through the ship to see the two labs on board, the captain’s bridge, the living and sleeping quarters, the side scan sonar room, the CTD (Conductivity, Temperature and Depth recorder), which is a piece of equipment used to test water quality, and the diving operations room, with the different kinds of wetsuits for the divers. It was pretty remarkable to see how excited each child got when concepts like radar and sonar were described. My role was to take groups through the ship from station to station, so I heard each scientist and crew member describe her station over and over again. It really helped me understand, even better, just what happens on the ship.

Crew member shows a wetsuit to kidsIt was good to spend the day talking about the science that happens on this ship, but now it’s time to go out and do that work. Right now, we are heading to the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, off of Arecibo to look for marine debris. The goal of this leg of the trip is to test out various types of gear and methods to provide information to develop an Agency-wide, uniform protocol for marine debris monitoring. All debris that is collected will be counted and categorized.

Then tonight we will sail around the western end of Puerto Rico to Jobos Bay on the south coast. There we will use side scan sonar to map the outer reef area, at the request of Puerto Rico government and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We’ll gather data to help create maps to show the extent and condition of essential recreational fisheries and habitat types.

It’s amazing what this ship can do! In just four days, this ship has been used in an unplanned mission, as an educational tool for schoolchildren, as a means to collect crucial information and data for the Agency, and as a helping hand to other environmental agencies that have like-minded goals in protecting and conserving our environment. I am mid-way through my trip at this point, and will continue to report out on the OSV BOLD.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: More Than a Thousand Words

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

February 12, 2009 – (Day 4)

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

When the OSV Bold was deployed Monday to do work along the northern coast of Puerto Rico, all EPA employees on board were asked to place themselves in various observation points throughout the ship and inform our Chief Scientist of any material floating around. About a half an hour into the sail, I spotted with binoculars a big box. The ship circled the item for a closer look and found out it was an old refrigerator floating in the ocean.

According to EPA’s Marine Debris website there are two sources of marine debris. The first comes from land related activities and it includes stormwater runoff and solid waste carried by rivers and streams. The second source of marine debris is from the ocean and it includes waste and trash from other ships and recreational boats, including fishermen.

photo of refrigerator floating in the waterI have been wondering ever since how this refrigerator ended up in the midst of Puerto Rico’s north coast. Could heavy rains have carried it from somewhere up in the mountains to the ocean? Was it not properly disposed of – perhaps just thrown into an illegal dump next to the coast that had eroded with time? We will never know for certain, but one thing is clear – in addition to presenting a navigational hazard, this refrigerator must have leaked all of its contents into the ocean, affecting marine life.

They say a picture says more than a thousands words. From now on, I will bring this picture with me to presentations and let the picture speak for itself.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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On Board the OSV BOLD: Back to the Science

For more than a month, EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is studying the health of the waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA scientists and non-scientists will blog about their research and what it’s like to live and work at sea.

February 11, 2009 – 1:20 pm (Day 3)

About the Author: Beth Totman is a press officer in Region 2, New York City. She covers Superfund, Emergency Response and Pesticides. She’s been with EPA since June 2007.

After a crazy and turbulent day at sea yesterday, this morning brought in sun and blue skies…a calm after our day long search, which ended well past midnight in 60mph winds and over 15 foot waves. Despite the conditions yesterday, EPA was able to composite crucial data and information that Doug will use to report back to the Puerto Rico Search and Rescue squad and the U.S. Coast Guard. Without the OSV BOLD’s side scan sonar capabilities, the search and recovery divers would search the ocean floor, as if they were searching for a needle in a haystack. Today, armed with the information that was acquired by the side scan sonar technology on the OSV BOLD, those divers now have an extra pair of eyes to search for the plane debris in the depths of the Caribbean Sea.

It was incredible to witness how quickly and effectively Doug and his team worked to get EPA’s search and recovery mission underway. Morale was high as the ship left San Juan harbor at 06:00 and charged on to the west. Doug had put together a grid of where the OSV BOLD would be searching and he did so through information from the Coast Guard and eyewitness accounts of where the plane went down. I tried to help in whatever way I could, but mainly just tried not to get in the way. The scientists and crew worked around the clock to visually search the side scan sonar that came in in real-time in the lab for anything that looked man-made on the bottom of the ocean floor.

As a result of yesterday’s work, Doug and his team of scientists have put together an extensive report that spells out what the side scan sonar found yesterday, and EPA is aware that if the weather continues to improve, making for better conditions for the side scan sonar technology to run at full capacity, we may have to return to the northwest coast of Puerto Rico. EPA has made it well-known that the OSV BOLD is on call. But until that call, we will continue on with our initial itinerary.

 Screenshot of side scan sonar and map indicating possible man-made targets (red dots) EPA found and passed on to US Coast Guard and authorities in Puerto Rice Screenshot of side scan sonar and map indicating possible man-made targets (red dots) EPA found and passed on to US Coast Guard and authorities in Puerto Rico.

Tomorrow, the OSV BOLD will be on open display to the public and the press. EPA will be giving tours of the ship to better communicate how important this incredible ship is in reaching EPA’s goals of protecting our oceans—and in using Her state-of-the-art technology to help out in impromptu search and rescue missions. With such an interesting start to our trip, it will be nice to open the ship up to outsiders who only have a vague idea of what She is all about. The press down here have reported on EPA’s role in yesterday’s search and recovery efforts, and we are ready to showcase the technology and importance of this ship to the public that we serve.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.