GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of visitors took advantage of Monday's "open ship" event aboard USM's research vessel. They toured the Point Sur, docked at the Port of Gulfport, and learned from the scientists who conduct experiments in the Gulf of Mexico.
It's not often the Point Sur is docked this time of year. The 135-foot vessel is usually working the offshore waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Definitely during the summer months, this vessel stays very busy. And the crew is very happy to be out at sea and working. A vessel in port is not a good vessel, offshore vessels are where you need to be," said Kevin Martin, with the USM School of Ocean Science and Technology.
USM expected a decent turnout for this community event, but the response was overwhelming. Nearly a thousand visitors toured the ship.
"And using that knowledge, we can start to put time events just based on the depth of this mud," said a researcher, as she shared information about an experiment.
Plenty of families with children were among the vessel's dockside visitors.
"That looks like someone tried to make an airplane out of a log," said fifth grader James Sakalarios.
The ten-year-old has been enjoying some science-based fun this summer.
"I've already gone to a camp about marine biology and also a space camp. So, I guess I have learned some," he said.
Those aboard the ship were more than happy to share stories about the research and talk about the capabilities of Point Sur.
"And this is where we keep track of all our data," said a person aboard the ship, standing in front of a bank of computer processors.
Point Sur is a definitely a versatile asset for marine science research; from pulling nets to launching underwater drones.
"It's an empty slate. So, whatever you want to do offshore, they can set that boat up to do that job for you," said USM's Dr. Monty Graham.
"When we go out and catch sharks, we do our best job to make sure we can release them alive," a shark researcher explained to a trio of kids.
Slidell's Kasey Shoemake calls it a great learning opportunity for her three youngsters, ages eight, five and three.
"It would be a good opportunity for them to explore and see how they learn more about the ocean," she said.
They were learning more about ocean research, before this USM vessel, heads offshore once again.
USM acquired the Point Sur in 2015, from San Jose State University in California.