Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MSI: Final Warwick Dive

Elena Strong, curator of the National Museum of Bermuda, returned to BIOS this morning to lead the Marine Science Interns on a final visit out to the Warwick wreck in Castle Harbor.

The NMB has incorporated the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences' Ocean Academy, which includes Waterstart and MSI programs, as an educational outreach component of the Warwick wreck excavation. Footage taken from our visits to the wreck and discussions with scientists on site will be used to create educational videos that will hopefully be shared with students who are not able to physically participate in BIOS Ocean Academy programs.

Today, as with prior visits, the archaeologists working on site discussed with students the history of the Warwick, findings of their excavation (including physical artifacts) and what the scientists working just below the surface we sat on were doing at that particular moment. After sharing sufficient back-history of the wreck, the interns suited up their scuba gear and descended down to the excavation site, side by side with archaeologists meticulously recording the planking of the Warwick, to collect sediment samples.

Amidst the wreckage and recording, 35 feet under water, the interns took three core samples of sediment. One of the samples will be sent to Battele in the United States to be analyzed for organic matter while the other two will remain at the Biological Station to be studied further by the interns in the coming weeks. While collecting sediment, Taylor, one of the interns, pointed out that they, "also got to watch the archeologists take data, which was really cool because they (the archaeologists) were working underwater.”

So much of what scientists learn from wrecks comes from studying the way in which the ship was originally built. It is nearly impossible, quite dangerous and rather impractical for archeologists to remove the entire wreck from the ocean and reconstruct it in the lab, so archaeologists use drawings and measurements to construct the ship electronically. Artifacts that are too big to be taken back to the lab and examined are meticulously drawn and recorded.

Today, the archaeologists were recording the Warwick's planking. Every ten centimeters they recorded the width and length of a plank so that they could later plot the points marked with a computer program to determine the size of the planks and map the ship out electronically. Although a lot of mapping is now done with computers, human sketches are still necessary in order to map out the location of treenails and other distinctive features. Each archaeologist has a different style of recording, some sketch more than they measure and vice-versa. It is the incorporation of both types of recording that will create a visual of the Warwick to study later in the lab.

The scientists and archeologists that have been working on recording the Warwick will be re-covering the wreck sometime next week with oxygen deficient sediment to prevent further decomposition, so today was our last trip out to the wreck this summer.

Marine Science interns John Russell and Liam Nash take a break from collecting sediment samples at the Warwick to deliver a special message to our blog viewers!

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