What an exciting and full on day! The first SOCCOM float has departed for its adventure, deep in the Indian Ocean.. searching for secrets to reveal. Our first float has been named José Iriarte, as José (from the Universidad Austral de Chile, UACh) has won last spring's contest launched on the SOCCOM research blog. The contest asked people to guess the maximum chlorophyll concentration a float would measure, and José got it right. Very good job, José! I wish I could put my name too.. hopefully there will be another contest next spring ;-)
José's float and its friend (soon you'll know how it'll be named ;-) ) resting still in the van, waiting for their journey to begin.
I confess I had my hands shaking the whole day.. I've been planning the fate of these floats from almost the very initial phases, as I've been involved in planning the locations of their deployment. Today I got to clean the sensors and.. wish the first float luck! We brought the float on the back deck (well, I got Tom helping me out with that) and once on deck, we passed a long line through it that we used to slowly release the float in the water (have a look at the pictures). I didn't hold the line or the float over the rail of the deck myself, though, as on this ship the procedure is very strict and only crew members are allowed to do it. But I followed it step by step..
Tom is helping Kel to put the line in..
..while I'm friendly asking Kel to be gentle with the release procedure (we're old friends.. no worries ;-)) (photo credit: Pete Harmsen, CSIRO, MNF)
Kel's lowering the float and I'm carefully watching (photo credit: Pete Harmsen, CSIRO, MNF)
It's gone!! Hasta luego!! (photo credit: Pete Harmsen, CSIRO, MNF)
The float is now on its journey..
While we were releasing the float, the ship was moving at roughly 1 kn, as we don't want the current to push it against the boat. Once it's in the water, the float waits few minutes (~3 minutes) before starting its first descent down to 1000 m. And after 1 day, it will send back the first profile, before diving again and repeat the cycle. It will drift, and for 10 days we won't know where it is and what it's seeing.. So, it's a bit stressful at the moment, as I wanna know if it's alright, if its sensor are all working properly, where the currents are drifting it.. Next time that the float will send a signal, we will know its position and comprehend how much it has moved from the initial position… and more importantly, we will know what it has seen!!
If you wanna follow the story of José's float, don't forget to look at the SOCCOM website and search for the float #9749, that soon (next day!!) will transmit the first data!!