Mission Accomplished!

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As the sun sets on Cay Sal Bank in the Bahamas tonight, our home for the last three weeks – the M/Y Golden Shadow – is steaming home toward Freeport. Our research team had one final dive this morning before closing up shop and putting away our gear until next time.

Last night was our final evening at anchorage on Cay Sal Bank. In the late afternoon, the expedition team set aside their work for a few hours and gathered with the officers and crew of the Golden Shadow on the stern deck for a wrap-up BBQ. We celebrated three weeks of hard work and excellent science; and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.

Following dinner, Living Oceans Foundation Executive Director Phil Renaud brought the group together and thanked everyone for making the first mission of the Global Reef Expedition a successful one. Phil also led a round of three cheers for our Living Oceans Foundation founder, HRH Prince Khaled bin Sultan, to whom our entire team is grateful for the chance to study these coral reefs aboard the M/Y Golden Shadow.

Our entire team would like to give a big thanks to Shadow Captain Steve Breen, his officers and crew; and the crew of the Golden Osprey. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish our mission here without their hard work and smiling faces!

Our Cay Sal Bank expedition team truly does have a successful mission to celebrate…

We spent 20 days at 8 different anchorages and our dive team surveyed 39 different sites around the bank. Our Living Oceans Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow Sonia Bejarano conducted fish grazing surveys at eight separate sites and collected more than 200 hours of video for her research. Many thanks to our surveyors from the Atlantic & Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Project and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). We’d also like to thank our six Bahamian divers for their local knowledge and experience!

Our Dive Safety Officer (DSO) Timothy Payne reports that over our entire mission, we completed 508 SCUBA dives and our expedition spent over 22,000 minutes – that’s 380 hours – underwater! A really big thank you to Tim for keeping our dive ops safe and for filling our 508 SCUBA tanks! On our site map below, you can see all of the dive locations as red squares…

In addition to our dive surveys, the groundtruthing team covered a remarkable survey area. They traveled over 640 miles, took nearly 2 million depth soundings, and conducted over 550 drop-camera surveys amounting to roughly 6 hours of survey footage. Many thanks to these team members from the National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) for joining us!

We’d also like to thank Bill and Charlie – our fearless film crew. We look forward to seeing more of your footage!

Stay tuned over the next few days for a wrap-up of the entire Cay Sal Bank expedition from Living Oceans Foundation Chief Scientist Andy Bruckner…

To follow along and see more photos, please visit us on Facebook! You can also follow the expedition on our Global Reef Expedition page, where there is more information about our research and our team members.

Post by Liz Smith

(Images/Photos: 1, 3: Liz Smith; 2: Dave Grenda; 4: Amanda Williams)

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