OceanGate Inc. and OceanGate Foundation conducted the second phase of the Eye on the Sanctuaries Tour with an expedition to the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary near San Francisco, California. The goal of this week-long expedition was to use the 5‑man submersible Cyclops 1 to expand our collective understanding of the distribution and abundance of deep-sea fish, corals and sponges within the sanctuary and to share the results of the expedition with students, educators, journalists, policy makers and the general public.
Mobilizing out of Moss Landing, California, the OceanGate operations crew prepared Cyclops 1 and Ms.Lars for dive operations and towed the vessels to Drakes Bay with the support vessel Quin Delta. The operations crew stayed aboard the ship for the duration of the expedition and were joined by mission specialists and content experts who motored to the dive site each day from Fisherman’s Wharf aboard the charter vessel El Dorado. Our content experts were volunteer naturalists referred by scientists at NOAA’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
The expedition crew and mission specialists conducted three submersible dives to explore the ocean depths outside Drakes Bay south of Point Reyes. Although at times the fog that this region is famous for delayed some dive operations, the crew succeeded in launching and recovering Cyclops on three consecutive days.
With the weather forecasted to bring strong winds and heavy seas to the area, the crew opted to relocate to our alternate dive location in San Francisco Bay where we conducted what may be the first ever submersible dives in the waters around Alcatraz Island. During these dives the dive crew observed large schools of anchovy in the strong currents and murky waters surrounding the island.
Following the expedition OceanGate Foundation staff will work up the results of the dives and collaborate with sanctuary educators to incorporate the content into outreach activities and programs.