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Environmental Recording :04 - 58:22 Play :04 - More
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Underwater habitat ambi  








Interview :04 - 58:22 Play :04 - More
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Alfaro, Brooke, Patterson, Pile, Styron  







Andrea Alfaro, Sandra Brooke, Mark Patterson, Adele Pile, Jay Styron; Aquarius underwater habitat; Coral reefs; Sponges  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
29 May 1995

  • United States
    Monroe County
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; Aquarius underwater habitat
  • 24.95   -80.454
  • Marine
  • Ocean
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Stereo

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
Bahamas/Key Largo
DAT #7

Aquarius 5/29 DAT "Interviews", etc.
Key Largo

AA = Andrea Alfaro
SB = Sandra Brooke
MP = Mark Patterson
AP = Adele Pile
JS = Jay Styron
GS = Greg Smith

0:00 mic checks

1:20 (arrivals...various splashes)

2:10 gs: (splash) who's who? jay styron...mark patterson: welcome to 20 thousand mm under the sea.

2:30 js: put your wet stuff there...shower natural...kep wet stuff in this end of the habitat...then we'll move on into the entry lock...

3:10 mp: every time we get a pot we fill it up with dead towels and garbage and send it to the surface.

gs: and a pot is?

mp: modified paint can. hello andrea. (mp and andrea discuss experiment) ...right now NPR is here to do an interview, then they want to come back later and do it with everybody, so we're going to talk with them...

gs and ap say hellos. then, ...this is great... mp: this is the main lock right here...hang out when not in
water...we fight for seat by the portal... gs: i see a diver out there now... mp: one of the NOAA people...aquanauts wear twin tanks, because you
can't go to the surface after you're down here.

6:40 gs: let's start with a description.. i came up underneath onto the wet porch...

dg: but you don't want to sit up quickly in the middle ofthe night...

8:35 gs: it's really one long tube...long cylinder... (dimensions)

9:20 gs: so yo are six people here? mp: yes, five scientists and jay the NOAA person... gs: (handgunmagazine... "just in case... ) mp: and we have musci to relax, and communication with
topside...actually on camera right now...

gs: can you get NPR down here?

mp: we've tried... rush limbaugh... ("Aquarius" bit of mx in bg)

(greg gets notebook.) (chuck sets up) (levels) (signs releases)

13:10 ap: did you feel that? we feel the surge in the waves ....depth meter there...we've been down here so long, hurts your ears... like airplane ride...

14:00 gs: tell us who you are and what you're responsible for... mp: id.. references adele... ap: id

15:05 gs: we just popped down for the interview, we can only stay for limited time...tell us how long you've been here. ap: since thursday.

gs: stay for how long? ap: up to 14, normal 10. at least 6 hours a day in the water...

16:10 gs: and when you're in the water, what're you doing?

mp: advantage of the habitat, our bodies have absorbed all the nitrogen w're going to absorb. so we can put in a full working day in this environment, just like spending a full day in the rain forest. we can acomplish in 5 days using saturation diving what would take a month surface diving. a neat tool for accomplishing alot of science in a compressed amount of time...only working habitat in the world to do this sort of research.

17:40 gs: what sort of research adele?

ap: studying how sponges are affecting coral reefs...what role they play in the ecosystem. sponges are found everywhere, in all ecosystems...can process water...capability to filter bacteria-sized particles.

19:00 gs: here off coast of key largo...apply results to reefs around the world?

ap: yes...maine, russia. not just with sponges, but with other animals as well...

20:10 gs: the reason that you're down here is that you can spend longer studying the sponges?

mp: yes ...part of the reason we're saturating is that you can do a different sort of diving...

gs: (interrupts) explain saturating.

mp: body saturated with nitrogen in the fatty tissues. if you came to the surface quickly, you'd die. four days of training.

gs: the bends ...

mp: yes the bends. getting back to aquarius, complex measurements here...bringing the laboratory to the seafloor...cables running to the experiments (sensors) watching the sponges ...advantage in not perturb what you're studying.

22:40 ap: ...also a lot less destructive. you can't tell that we've been there working. (radio in bg)

23:20 gs: sylvia earle says, space travel vs. sea exploration...up vs. down...we think about going up as you feel down mark?

mp: divers don't feel that way. We feel this facility is our space station. . . aquarius is the neatest thing going currently in marine science, we should value as a research tool. . . cost per day is like ocean going vessel. . . I understand her paradigm, but I look at the world through a diving mask so i have a diff point of view.

gs: adele, rose-coloured diving mask?

ap: yes, i is being down here is like nothing i've never experienced... like living inside an aquarium. to lose a system like this, the Aquarius habitat would be a set back instead of forward...

26:15 (long ambient tail.) (stop...break between dives.)

27:50 gs: you said, adele, that this was like an aquarium.

28:10 ap: the fish look in. . . at night, the fish look in . . . flip on their sides. . . there's a huge turtle on the reef that comes out every day. . . lobster den, they came out. . . (radio bg) . . .

29:15 mp: door got stuck. . . screw up your profile!

29:30 ap: so the animals do come out and look at us, and what we're doing in their world.

29:40 gs: we spoke earlier about space exploration...let's reach the moon
(goal) ... is there a goal we can achieve...public relations ... a PR question i suppose.. .

30:30 mp: it IS a PR question...spokesmen like jacques cousteau and sylvia earle...give the number of people that live in coastal zones, the marine sciences are not given the attention they deserve... japanese spending lots of dough on sea expo, came and looked at aquarius, want to build their own. so, while we still have the edge in undersea exploration, we're in danger of losing that edge if we ignore resources.

31:50 gs: back to science...your studies applied to other areas.

ap: basically, the general theme ...

32:20 gs: (interrupts) what is the general theme of the research down here?

ap: what these sponges eat... it's pretty simple question...

32:35 gs: is it a simple answer?

ap: it CAN be...we can go to a variety of places and answer the of the things about science that such a simple question hasn't been answered yet...what do they eat? how much do they eat? how does this affect the's plain and simple what we're doing down here.

33:35 gs: mark, why is it important to know what sponges eat?

mp: part of the reason for clear water is sponges as natural biofilters. we can't make such an efficient filter. until we better understand we won't have a complete picture of a coral reef. ...curiosity-driven science has in the past driven creating new industries, for example... (suspended thought)

35:00 ap: i think that another thing... ecosystems like the Mediterranean and Florida, sponges are massive die-offs... indicator that there's a problem with the water...we don't know enough about sponges to be able to go backwards and solve these problems ...

36:00 mp: we got into this 2 years ago in Lake Baikal...filled with sponges ...dominate lake, process the water in the shallow part of the lake...

ap: ...and for each square meter of bottom in Baikal the sponges are eating the equivalent of a large bullfrog... (gs: amazing) ...pretty amazing animals actually...

37:30 gs: let me ask one other question...unfair... in your role as oceanographers, how to make important to iowa? (mp: sponges?) sponges, everything...

mp: most people when you asked when they were little, what do you want to be when you grow up. 80% said, 'i wanted to be a marine biologist' ...even in oklahoma. i was one of the lucky few who became one...even if you don't live by the ocean, you have a natural affinity for the sea....70% of population lives within 100 miles of coast... so 70% of your radio audience should be concerned about coastal environment... impacts recreation and question that we can't justify research.

39:40 gs: i'll throw it to you adele... i've got picture in my mind of small boy in wisconsin, skipping stone across lake...never seen ocean...why should he care? what's the connection?

Ap: because we can learn a lot about oceans from lakes. . .

Gs: how?

Ap: very similar in their aquatic environments. . . plankton, (etc) ... but the other thing this small boy needs to realize is that all of this water from the lakes and streams runs into the ocean. even though you may be living in wisc or colorado, any water that you pour on the ground will eventually make it out into the oceans... and that's not just water but anything, water, oil, chemicals from you seem far away, but you do impact it because that's the way water works, rivewrs lead in to the oceans...

mp: yeah these water molecules ...there goes one from oklahoma right now! (laughs)

ap: ...and the Gulf of mexico, the Mississippi river feeds down into the gulf of Mex , brushes along florida coast and down into the keys. so this COULD be oklahoma water for all we know....

41:00 gs: well good, thank you both...

mp: thanks for visiting us 20 thousand MM under the sea. (laughs)

gs: we'll go back up and see you guys on the surface. (ok... )

(long ambient tail)

42:00 (big yea)

42:20 (retake end)

gs: i'm going to say goodbye again...thank you mark patterson...

mp: pleaure having you 20 thousand MM under the sea...

gs: adele pyle...

ap: thanks alot for coming down...

gs: good luck and i hope you get back up soon... (ap: me too!) let's head for the wet porch...

(gets up..."bye" ... "Bye" ...moves off)

43:00 (retake of instructs... )

43:28 gs: mark, hello...

mp: welcome to aquarius, 20 thousand MM under the sea.

gs: this is the wet porch, and you are? ..

js: jay styron, habitat tech. hi

gs: and you are?

sb: sandra (Belch!) brooke...

gs: we just had an Aquarius belch... (sounds like gunfire) right over the last part of your name...

sb: sandra brooke, i'm an aquanaut...masters project...not related directed... nutritional...results not yet in.

44:30 gs: well, mark can you walk us thru?

mp: sure, jay is the expert of the wet porch...

js: as you can see this is the entry exit point for the habitat...wettest part of the habitat... (gs¿ very humid) ...meals supplies potted in and out...wet science lab/bar re...emergency bailout bottles up ahead... little shower stall... (mp: this door closes) ...panels, gas... (mp: and our refrigerator...milk, bacon

46:20 gs: so this is your portal to the world, I swam underneath the habitat and then poked my head up...

js: box open on the bottom..

mp: let's go in... (opens door) ...pressurized...envir control unit ... comfortable... temp nicer...noise level of 747, get used to it¿standing right in front of toilet... now in a small rooom, steel counters, small porthole to outside. . . each portal is 4" thick. . . wash up, bench to do science. . fresh towels. . . escape hatch over your head. . . (and another door). . . during decompression slowly relieved . . . problem, we're 50' deep, entry lock allows us to recompress ...

49:50 gs: let's move into next section (door opens) ...

mp: now in main lock of only underwater habitat available to scientists...competitive basis for access...privilege of living here for 10 days ... (in main living area (15' long) ...yes (dials and switches ... ) adele and andrea are sitting at kitchen table, fight for space at mealtime...galley, hot water...heat loss is a problem when in water for 6 hrs a day... comfortable place to spend when out of water...and then behind us ...

(gs: let's stop and say hello..hi)

51:45 af: sponges growth rates ...coral cutting, weighing them... (gs: and where's home?) in doing phd w/mark patterson.

52:30 gs: and you are?

ap: adele pyle...virginia, grad student with mp. (and this is your project?) ...yes, big interest in project. (success?) yes ... amazing, more science in 5 days than i've ever done (intense) yes, everyone's been working really hard... (last chamber now)
(moves into last chamber)

53:30 gs: much quieter in here...

mp: yes, you're standing on the escape hatch...emergency air...

gs: it's really one long tube...gas truck.... it would be as if you took a gas truck and emptied out the inside...

gs: well, let's sit down and talk about some science.

mp: ok, come into the living room... (walk off, ambient tail)

(chuck records ambience) (gathers stuff... ) (prepares for exit)
(retake for "entrance"

57:00 (bubbles. . . splash!)

mp: hey

gs: hello mark...greg smith, natl geo./npr

mp: 20 thousand MM under the sea.

(short splashing around as i "take off" my BC and tank)
("ending" )

57:45 gs: thank you mark, put my mask on, gotta get back upstairs...

mp: a pleasure having you here...enjoy the sun and the wind on your face ...

gs: goodbye adele, sandra, jay....goodbye, thanks .... (bubbles off...quiet wet porch ambience tail)

58:20 END

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