February 2008

Monterey, California is beautiful, and I could not have picked a better place to stay for five weeks. The scholarship year, however, is full of unexpected trips and surprise experiences and just as I had settled into Monterey, I was invited by Brett Seymour and Dave Conlin of the Submerged Resources Center (SRC) of the National Park Service (NPS) to help with a project at Lake Mead, Nevada. I would be there for four days – a short experience but one that was extremely fun and educational.

The SRC along with members of the Advanced Imaging Analysis Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) were at Lake Mead to study and document a submerged WWII B-29 sitting at about 150 feet. Although still considered a technical dive, the wreck will soon be within recreational diving limits due to the decreasing water level of Lake Mead. Documenting the wreck not only preserves it as a historical artifact but also will provide detailed information to increase diver safety. The length and depths of each dive were beyond my training in closed circuit so my job for the trip was an assistant to divers and cameras.

One new skill I have learned this year (among many) has been filming above and below water. I have tremendously enjoyed using my video camera to document my own adventures but have grown interested in filming more. Before the end of my year I had wanted to help with professional filmmaking and learn about different camera systems and productions. The trip to Lake Mead was one of my first views of professional underwater videography so I set out to be as helpful as I could. The team brought three cameras with them all high definition and one 3D. Two cameras were tethered by fiberoptic cables so that the live footage would stream to monitors aboard the boat. I asked to be put to work and soon learned how to put together battery packs for the camera lights, to properly weight the camera housings, and to manage the cables. The film crew was happy to answer my many questions and I talked with them about how to make my own filming more professional.

My diving skills were also put to use as I helped assemble rebreathers and get divers in and out of the water. I even got to use a small Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to search for lost lights (we found them at 140 feet). I had a wonderful time at Lake Mead and can’t thank the SRC enough for hosting me. I am also very glad for the exposure to the camera systems and filming production.

I flew back to Monterey to settle in, once more, to my five-week-long internship at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Monterey is home to numerous scientific organizations, most notably the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Moss Landing, and UC Santa Cruz. I was very excited, therefore, to be in the midst of all this scientific collaboration and to intern with a fantastic program. For the month of February and first part of March, I am interning at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) specifically with the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) group. Check out http://montereybay.noaa.gov/ and http://sanctuarysimon.org/ for more information. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects 276 miles of coastline north and south of Monterey, CA, and 5,322 square miles of ocean. SIMoN helps researchers and ecosystem managers in monitoring of the sanctuary by conducting research, compiling databases, and sharing information with the public. When setting up this internship with the help of SIMoN researcher Steve Lonhart, I had envisioned being out in the field and diving to help research studies but when I got Monterey, I was offered a different project – video production. As it turned out my time in Monterey would coincide with an Immersion Presents special on Monterey Bay. Immersion Presents, an organization founded by Dr. Bob Ballard, produces live videos over the Internet to school and community groups. Live presentations would be filmed in Monterey in conjunction with the MBNMS from March 2-7 and a lot of work had to be done in preparation.

Over the next few weeks I was put to work shooting extra footage (called B-roll) of the intertidal and wetlands. Some of this footage would go to Immersion Presents and some would be used to update SIMoN and MBNMS footage. Steve specifically wanted footage of some of the volunteer programs that are run by the MBNMS. For example, Beachcombers volunteers walk the Monterey area beaches once a month to collect baseline population mortality data on seabirds and mammals. I went on two beach walks in order to film the data collection. Another volunteer project revolves around the non-native algae, Undaria pinnatifida. Volunteers come to the harbor once a month to help with algal removal. I spent a day with a high school class filming their work and documenting the amount of the algae removed. This footage is to be used for a future public service announcement.

For Immersion Presents, I was to specifically help out on two short segments to be played during the live presentations – one in the intertidal and one at Elkhorn Slough, a wetlands near Moss Landing. I was involved in all aspects of each segment in storyboarding, filming, editing, and producing and am happy to say much of my own footage will be shown online at the Immersion Presents website. We are now gearing up for the start of the live broadcasts on March 2nd. I will be both behind the scenes filming as well as a scientist in the water and am looking forward to being involved in many aspects of the production.

I have tremendously enjoyed my time spent here in Monterey and I must say it will be hard to leave such a beautiful area. I have become increasingly interested in working for organizations like the sanctuary system that actively conduct research and outreach as well as collaborate with neighboring institutions to create an integrated, proactive scientific community. Interning at the MBNMS office has provided me with daily exposure to this type of work and I am impressed by the level of dedication, creativity, and hard work that the staff has shown. I am proud to be an intern with the MBNMS office and am thrilled to be a part of the Immersion Presents Monterey team. We begin at the start of March! If you would like to check out the archived videos, go to www.immersionpresents.org and click on ‘Monterey.’

Thanks so much to the Submerged Resources Center of the National Park Service for a terrific time spent in Lake Mead and a huge thanks to all the staff at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for warmly welcoming me to the office.

1) In Nevada

2) Brett Seymour gives the first B-29 dive briefing while videographer Evan Kovacks and SRC archaeologist Dave Conlin look on.

3) Two of the WHOI cameras with my Light and Motion Bluefin for reference

4) Helping Becky Kagan into the water

5) Visualizing the B-29 at the surface

6) My wonderful NPS hosts, Brett Seymour and Dave Conlin ready to jump in

7) Looking for the lights with an ROV

8) One of the many beautiful sunsets

9) At the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary office

10) Helping with seabird monitoring

11) The faces of Elkhorn Slough

12) Paul Chertikin films Dawn Osborn for our intertidal piece

13) Paul and I discuss film editing

14) Filming Undaria sp. removal in the harbor

15) My desk!