Wednesday, June 8, 2011

G'day from down under!

I'm finally in AUSTRALIA!!! I arrived last Wednesday, so I've been here a full week now, and have a good amount of stuff to share with you! It's been pretty rough getting on the 12-hour-difference time schedule, but I'm getting there!

First of all, it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL here. The plant-life and wildlife are exotic and the beaches are breathtaking. The sky is literally bluer here (less particulate matter in the air) and the clouds alone are incredible. They're so high in the sky and vast; it really gives the true impression of how huge Australia really is.

I've now been in my third ocean! 3 down (Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian) and 2 to go (Arctic and Southern)!!!

Anyway, I'm in Perth, which has a population over over 1.5 million people. That being said, it is commonly known as the world's most isolated city...which it is! The nearest cities are thousands of miles away. North of Perth, about half way up the continent of Australia is Ningaloo Reef; the world's only extensive reef system of the west coast of any continent. I may even get a chance to visit Ningaloo Reef for a glider deployment! On the east coast of AU is Cairns (the Great Barrier Reef), the Gold Coast, Sydney, etc. Those are the more commonly known and visited tourist attractions.

So over the past week I've been lucky enough to go to the beach a few times, visit the city, and do some walking around in Kings Parks, which is a part-preserved forest/part-botany forest. Really pretty there.

I'm not much of a bird person compared to other animals, but some of the birds here really are quite fascinating. Beautiful colors and really cool sounds and songs! The Kookaburra sounds really cool in particular. Its sound is replicated by Aboriginals that play the didgeridoo.

The first couple days we got here the surf was great! But the swell has passed and I'm waiting for another good swell to come in. Also had some wetsuit problems, but hopefully they'll get resolved soon and I can get some really nice waves! One of the professors I'm working with at the University of Western Australia worked on a project to create the world's first artificial SURFING reef! The reef was designed to create perfectly breaking waves for surfers, and is just a few miles away from where I'm staying!

This past Monday I started work at the University of Western Australia's (UWA) Oceans Institute (OI). I am working with Ben, Christine, Dennis, Mun, and Chari, who are all from UWA, and Shannon who is interning from Rutgers University here with me too! We started off on Monday morning with an ANFOG (Australia's National Facilities for Ocean Gliders) meeting about the plans for this week and the next coming 2 months. We have a glider deployment this Friday, for which we have been preparing and testing the glider U209 for. The glider will be taking measurements of the Leeuwin Current just off the coast of Perth. The Leeuwin Current is vital to the marine biology and ecosystems here in Western Australian waters. In addition to prepping U209, we prepped U210 for another Marine Science Institution in Tasmania for a very cool guy named Lindsay who I met in the Canary Islands this past March for a global glider observatories conference!

After we get U209 in the water, we will begin prepping the 2 gliders which Shannon and I will be piloting for our primary research this summer. They are a new type of glider which we have not worked with yet, which is exciting to be able to learn how to tech and operate another type of glider (there are 3 main types of gliders, so I'll know how to operate 2 out of 3 after this summer!). The type of gliders I am very familiar with are Teledyne Webb Research SlocumGliders, such as U209 and U210 are. I will be working with Slocums, but the main part of the data from which we will be using for our research will come from the 2nd type of glider: iRobotSeaglider. Essentially, the sensors on any glider are the same, the variance in the glider itself is just the vehicle to which the sensors are attached. When it comes down to it, data is data!

We will be researching the Perth Canyon, an ancient part of the Swan River and begins about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Perth. I'll get into more detail about that when the times comes!

So as I said, we'll be going out of a boat early Friday morning to deploy the Slocum glider U209! I believe it will be Dennis, the glider tech at UWA OI/ANFOG, Shannon, and me. I'll be sure to take some pictures!

Speaking of pictures, photography and is a mini-hobby of mine, so I'll be sharing some photos I take along the way of this Australian Adventure! I particularly like dynamic landscape photography and supermacro photography. Hope you enjoy them!



  1. Dave,
    Your photos are incredible! And Perth sounds like a great place to be. Also, winter sounds pretty mild. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more.
    Lily Young

  2. Hey Lily!
    Thanks, I'm glad you like the photos! Yes, winter is quite mild here compared to NJ. Daily temps are in the 60s during the day generally but it can get cold at night. Quite nice!