Agathe Laes-Huon is a research engineer in chemistry and it's her first dive in the Nautile.
Interview with Agathe after the dive:
In what state of mind were you just before the dive? Calm? Anxious? Excited?
I was more concentrated on preparing our instruments on the Nautile, some we'd only finished getting ready that morning and of course we had to get everything checked before departure. Once everything was in place, I got into my work suit and slipped into the sphere of the submersible. On seeing my colleagues outside through the porthole, I realized the big day had arrived ! I must admit that I was a bit anxious as the airlock closed. The long list of security checks did not help me to relax but once my face was glued to the porthole and as I watched the variations of deep blues flow before my eyes, the magic set in. Once at the bottom, it was quite simply unreal.
What was your first impression when you saw the inside of the Nautile sphere?
I had already been inside several times to test the communication of our instruments in the Nautile. I was not really apprehensive at that time because I knew I was not going to dive straight away. The first impression is one of a "nest", a "cocoon", not cosy, but well fitted. A place for everything and everything in its place. Obviously, after 6 hours, it starts feeling a little restricted and I do sympathize with the strapping guys who spend hours diving with the Nautile !
You must have seen so much on the bottom. What springs to mind?
The power with which the fluid flows from the black smokers of the TAG. Life here is so active, thousands of shrimp proliferate around the vents.
When you got out, how did you feel? Tired? Enthralled? Relieved?
I felt privileged. I am very fortunate to have been able to observe this environment so closely. I felt no fatigue until we'd finished processing the water samples taken during the dive.
Lastly, which moment most impressed you (before, during or after)?
During the dive: When we started to arrive near the largest vents, I was as near as possible to the porthole looking upwards and I still couldn't see the tops! The relief was very impressive. We could distinguish white and ochre coloured vents through heavy black plumes. The more we ascended, the more we discovered. Once at the top, the big black smoker in view, we were completely immerged in the plume, quite a spooky sensation!
Before/after the dive: The level of professionalism of the Nautile team. The smooth running of the dive is down to the professionalism of each team member. The ship's positioning, the manoeuvres on the deck, the navigation of the Nautile, the pilots, co-pilots, divers, mechanics, electronic technicians...an example of fine team spirit. I'd like to express my thanks to all!