The Story Behind the Photo

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 17, 2009) – You may have noticed that one of the rotating feature photos on the USF main Web page is a photo of a diver in the water with the Research Vessel (R/V) Weatherbird II in the background. (Photo at left.) Here’s the story behind the photo.


The photo was taken by USF photographer, Joseph Gamble. He is a certified USF Scientific Diver who actively participates on scientific dive cruises as often as his time allows. He contributes greatly by documenting the research activities on board during the trip.  This particular cruise happened to be USF’s maiden voyage aboard the R/V Weatherbird II, for research by the Ocean Circulation Group (OCG).


The mission for this cruise was to recover buoys which house instrumentation affixed to their anchoring chain/cable as well as topside on the buoy’s superstructure. The buoys supply data to the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) as well as Dr. Robert Weisberg’s OCG lab. Dr. Weisberg, Professor of Marine Science at USF St. Petersburg Campus, is in charge of the Ocean Circulation Group. The OCG is a physical oceanography graduate program research lab engaging in research with a global reach. The OCG lab has ongoing projects off the West Florida shelf; in the Pacific Equatorial Current and Cariaco (just to name a few of their research projects).


The OCG is comprised of a staff of 12.  On this cruise, Dr. Weisberg was assisted onboard by research assistants Rick Cole and Jay Law.  All three have been divers in the USF Scientific Diving Program.

Each targeted buoy as well as its anchor chain/cable and anchor was brought onboard the R/V Weatherbird II.  Once aboard the vessel a maintenance check was performed.  In some cases the instrumentation was swapped out.  The buoy goes through a thorough cleaning process and the buoy and its anchoring system gets redeployed. The cruise involved both topside operations as well as sub-surface scientific diving.

The diver in the photo on the USF Web page (and first photo in this article) is Jay Law.  Along with pulling up the large NOAA NDBC buoys, the divers also needed to locate, inspect, swap data instrumentation packages and in some cases rig the Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP) so we could lift it from the ocean floor. The ones that were hauled onboard had their data instrumentation packages swapped out; they were inspected, cleaned and in most cases redeployed.  

Operations onboard the R/V Weatherbird II continue 24/7, insuring a safe, productive cruise for all researchers.  The crew aboard the R/V Weatherbird II is fantastic. They are professional in every aspect. Their motto is “Safety First”, which is one of the major tenants of the USF Scientific Diving program as well.  Both Ben Meister and I had the privilege to participate on this maiden voyage and to assist Dr. Weisberg on his project.  I am happy to report it was an all-around success.

-- Story by Bill Dent

-- Photos and multimedia by Joseph Gamble