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VIERS Plans for 40th Anniversary of Tektite Splashdown

Jan. 27, 2009 — On Feb. 15 the V.I. Environmental Resource Station will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tektite splashdown.
"That's when it first went in the water," said VIERS Administrator Randy Brown.
On Feb. 15, 1969, aquanauts Edward Clifton, Conrad Mahnken, John VanDerwalker and John Waller dove to the bottom of Great Lameshur Bay to enter the Tektite underwater habitat. They spent the next 60 days conducting marine scientific research, and were themselves the subject of research to determine the impact of living underwater.
Their stay was called Tektite I and was conducted jointly by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Navy, NASA and General Electric. In 1970, groups of scientists — including acclaimed marine scientist Sylvia Earle — used the habitat as Tektite II. She visited VIERS and Lameshur Bay in March 2005 to help the Ocean Conservancy launch its book The State of the Coral Reefs of the U.S. Virgin Islands. (See "Underwater Explorer Returns, Finds Fewer Fish.")
The anniversary celebration begins at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at VIERS, located at Lameshur Bay on St. John's southeast end. It will include an hour-long talk by historian and St. John resident Bruce Schoonover, who is making the presentation in conjunction with the St. John Historical Society.
His talk will feature rare photos and video clips on the Tektite project. This presentation will be made in the VIERS meeting tent, located adjacent to the VIERS cabins.
The cabins were built in 1968 as the base camp for the Tektite projects. They remain in use as housing for students, scientists and others who attend camps and study at VIERS.
According to Brown, the University of the Virgin Islands, which owns VIERS, had already established a presence at Lameshur Bay before the Tektite project got underway. UVI set up a camp farther down the road where ruins sit. It was called the V.I. Ecological Research Station, a name that carried on until 1992.
After Schoonover's presentation, VIERS will host the grand opening of the Tektite Underwater Habitat Museum building at the VIERS office cabin. Photos, films, artifacts and other items related to the history of the Tektite projects will be displayed.
Aquanaut Mahnken and James W. Miller, who served as the project's program manager and retired as the U.S. Department of the Interior's director of ocean technology, will be on hand to answer questions about the project.
A light dinner will follow. The fee for the dinner runs $10.
If you plan to attend, call 776-6721 to make dinner reservations and so VIERS staff can plan for parking.
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Jan. 27, 2009 -- On Feb. 15 the V.I. Environmental Resource Station will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Tektite splashdown.
"That's when it first went in the water," said VIERS Administrator Randy Brown.
On Feb. 15, 1969, aquanauts Edward Clifton, Conrad Mahnken, John VanDerwalker and John Waller dove to the bottom of Great Lameshur Bay to enter the Tektite underwater habitat. They spent the next 60 days conducting marine scientific research, and were themselves the subject of research to determine the impact of living underwater.
Their stay was called Tektite I and was conducted jointly by the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Navy, NASA and General Electric. In 1970, groups of scientists -- including acclaimed marine scientist Sylvia Earle -- used the habitat as Tektite II. She visited VIERS and Lameshur Bay in March 2005 to help the Ocean Conservancy launch its book The State of the Coral Reefs of the U.S. Virgin Islands. (See "Underwater Explorer Returns, Finds Fewer Fish.")
The anniversary celebration begins at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at VIERS, located at Lameshur Bay on St. John's southeast end. It will include an hour-long talk by historian and St. John resident Bruce Schoonover, who is making the presentation in conjunction with the St. John Historical Society.
His talk will feature rare photos and video clips on the Tektite project. This presentation will be made in the VIERS meeting tent, located adjacent to the VIERS cabins.
The cabins were built in 1968 as the base camp for the Tektite projects. They remain in use as housing for students, scientists and others who attend camps and study at VIERS.
According to Brown, the University of the Virgin Islands, which owns VIERS, had already established a presence at Lameshur Bay before the Tektite project got underway. UVI set up a camp farther down the road where ruins sit. It was called the V.I. Ecological Research Station, a name that carried on until 1992.
After Schoonover's presentation, VIERS will host the grand opening of the Tektite Underwater Habitat Museum building at the VIERS office cabin. Photos, films, artifacts and other items related to the history of the Tektite projects will be displayed.
Aquanaut Mahnken and James W. Miller, who served as the project's program manager and retired as the U.S. Department of the Interior's director of ocean technology, will be on hand to answer questions about the project.
A light dinner will follow. The fee for the dinner runs $10.
If you plan to attend, call 776-6721 to make dinner reservations and so VIERS staff can plan for parking.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.