One of the team goals for this February’s dives are to explore new passages and add to the two kilometers of line we laid during the 2007 project.
But we also want to “do some science.”
Of particular interest to any readers who dive or have friends and family who dive, is that members of our dive team will be part of a study monitoring decompression stress. Data will be collected from two-dimensional echo imaging ultrasound will be used to detect bubbles on both sides of the heart. Also, venous blood draws and buccal swabs will be collected to study stress responses. Study subjects will wear data loggers on all dives to capture their profiles, and information about the dive will be downloaded from PDCs and CCR controllers.
In addition, and in respect to ‘other markers’, changes in gene expression as a response to diving and epigenetic signatures related to repetitive diving will be collected.
Volunteers will have restricted activity for a two hour window after every dive, and will report for three minutes of scanning in every 20 minute time block during those two hours.
The research team will also collect onsite physical state and functional fitness measures before diving begins. Height, weight, skinfold thickness, pushups, situps, and range of motion cover most of the measures.
We hope that although the sample is small and the vastly diverse in age, gender, fitness level, and dive experience, useful information on decompression stress and its successful management will be the outcome of this aspect of the expedition.
The team leading these endeavors will be:
Neal W. Pollock, Ph.D., Research Director, Divers Alert Network
Dawn Kernagis, PhD, Research Scientist, The Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) – Pensacola, FL