Strategizing and some down time
Saturday saw us thinking ahead as to what the various options are in working around the problems of the R/V Diplodus. With a late start, a brief strategy session was followed by a quick all-hands to get everyone on the 'same page'. Q&A followed with some issues clarified for the problems emanating from the Diplodus' grounding. The net result was the decision that there was little we could Monday 12th, other than engage in more UAV tests. The fundamental idea was to figure out how to exercise the need to spot a tag from 100m up in the air. The plan was to request the Maritime Police for help and perhaps even have a swimmer from the team go back to Vila Real do Santo António, swimming in the ocean with a tag teathered. Kanna voluteered for this task.
A slow lunch followed with the entire group decamping to downtown Tavira just a couple of km's down the road. It is indeed a lovely town, if very laid back. Return to the farm house meant a larger indepth discussion on next steps and contingency plans for what to do to deal with the Diplodus being out. Renting another vessel and asking for the Navy's help are possibilities that are being explored. This of course means dealing with the famous Portuguese bureacracy to be able to spend project funds. Our main intangibles continue to be the ship, the ocean weather, fish themselves and what to do if we do move to a different vessel. The latter because with our friends from Marine Technologies, we had spent time and effort wiring the Diplodus with satcoms. Tagging of the fish also depends on the stochastic nature of actually finding Mola's in the Tuna pen in the first place. All statistical indications are that by mid May, there would be a precipitous drop in the number of Mola's migrating via the pen. So delaying the experiment is not really a major option.
While struggling with these assorted variables, we continued to observe a "test tag" in the HUB (i.e. a real Mola tagged for testing) continued to pop up regularly just off the Spanish coast. This was good news in demonstrating that the (SPOT) tag was working well and gave us at least some data points on how a 65 cm Mola would behave.
Francisco and Javier showed us some very interesting (ocean) model output which was integrated into our opertional tool Neptus. This is very encouraging, even if it does not just yet validate why the fish in Spain did not exactly follow the currents from Francisco and Javiers model.
Dinner was a nice barbeque at the back of the farm house. Jorge Fontes from the Univ. of the Azores joined in all our discussions and showed us some terrific videos from his dives with cetaceans in past projects. Much of Portuguese history dealing with the Infante Henrique was discussed followed by heated discussions of what we were seeing in the dark sky overhead. Mars was indeed observed.