Susan Holt, a biology teacher at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona, is aboard the M/V Performer, a deep-water research ship in the Indian Ocean, with an international team of scientists who are investigating the changes at the deep-sea floor that caused the deadliest tsunami in recorded history, that struck the Indonesian coast in December. The scientific team of 21 scientists from 11 institutions, representing 6 nationalities, includes seismologists, geophysicists, biologists, seabed visualization experts and tsunami modelers. The team left Phuket, Thailand on May 9th and will spend 17 days at sea investigating the epicenter of the earthquake, which caused the tsunami. They will explore the seabed with a unique remotely operated submersible that can descend nearly 3 miles below sea level.
The work of the scientific team is being filmed for a documentary that will be aired later this year by BBC 1, Discovery US, ProSeiben in Germany, and Discovery International. The Geological Survey of Canada, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, University of Rhode Island, University of New Hampshire, University of Delaware, British Geological Survey, University of Texas, Oceaneering, National Science Foundation, Penn State University, the National Science Foundation's ARMADA Project, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Census of Marine Life Program, BP Marine Limited and Science Application International Corporation (SAIC) have joined forces to support the scientific investigation. Oceaneering Inc., the company providing the MV Performer, has donated the bulk of their standard mobilization costs to help make the expedition possible.
Susan Holt shares her experiences aboard in her daily log transmitted from the M/V Performer:
May 8, 2005
When we arrived at the beautiful Panwa Resort (Who knows how we got there? I just know it was by very small roads where we dodged more scooters.), we were greeted by gracious staff. This area was not affected by the tsunami because it is at the opening of the bay. The water had rushed into the bay and flooded the end of the bay, where it narrows. When we were driving on the small roads to get to the resort, we saw debris, but I did not realize that it was from the tsunami until afterwards because of the amount of rebuilding and cleanup that has been completed. During lunch, I heard about pirates for the first time-not the Johnny Depp type of pirate but the mean, modern day pirates. These pirates stop ships in this area and take money and can be very dangerous. I heard stories about ships that grease the rails and steps, put tacks down on the deck, and get fire hoses out to deter pirates. Some even have pirate watches where they staff more people on the bridge in order to see and spotlight any small boats that might be approaching.