Harnessing the MOCNESS »

We’re nearing the continental shelf edge off southwestern Florida. It’s a beautiful morning, still balmy; a light breeze keeps the air tolerably fresh before the tropical sun reaches a scorching zenith later in the day. But there is little time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. The Nancy Foster is a working ship, with heavy gear, and a ship and scientific crew who work 24 hours a day, every day. Time on research ships is preciously expensive, so everyone maximizes their opportunity at data collection.

Defenders chief scientist joins research expedition in the Gulf »

I had arrived quite late the previous night, by taxi, to find the ship moored at one of the piers operated by the U.S. Coast Guard-St. Petersburg sector. Adrenaline is a poor sleep aid, and I awoke early. This would be my first significant oceanographic expedition in many years; I supposed it was okay to be a little excited. What had the Nancy Foster found on its first two weeks? What would it find in its final leg, one that would transit the deep, far reaches of the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the Deepwater Horizon’s colossal failure?