Vandenberg with the Advanced Assessment Team

On May 27, 2009 Vandenberg was sunk to become the largest artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the second largest in the world. In order for such a large ship to be sunk like that there has to be a lot of planning and research. REEF was asked to do surveys on the Vandenberg site before the ship was sunk to see how it would affect the marine life and reefs.  REEF stepped up to the challenge and assembled their Advanced Assessment Team made up of all level 4 and 5 fish surveyors.  The Advanced Assessment Team (AAT) is a group of highly qualified fish ID experts who volunteer their time to do fish surveys that would be more accurate than an entry level fish surveyor.  The team surveyed the Vandenberg site and multiple sites around it before the sinking and we have been keeping up with our long term survey plan.  The sites we survey around the Vandenberg are to compare reef structure and look at impacts of other wrecks.  As interns we have not quite gotten to the AAT level but we were invited to join and help out with the research.  The Vandenberg is located off the coast of Key West which is around a two hour drive from where we are in Key Largo. I was lucky enough to be able to join the survey crew for four out of their five days of surveys.  I really enjoyed all of the sites and getting to work with such experienced researchers.  My favorite day was our last day when we surveyed the Vandenberg again and Joes Tug.  When we went down for our first dive in the morning, there was zero current and almost 100ft of viability.  It was absolutely amazing.  We wanted to stay down there all day, but due to the depth we only had a short time.  I am really glad I had the opportunity to work with the Advanced Assessment Team again and hopefully I will be able to join them again and even become an AAT member myself.

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Flag in the satellite dish

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Looking up the ship

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Side of the ship

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Wheel house

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Starboard deck

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Safety stop

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Showing my REEF colors

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Side railing

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Looking up the side of the ship

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Fish everywhere!



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