Blue water diving to study deep-sea jellies in NikumaroroLast Updated on 2009-09-16 00:00:00Yesterday, Larry Madin, Kate Madin, Alan Dynner, myself and a Fijian crew member named Koroi drove one of NAI'A's diving skiffs four miles off Nikumaroro and came to a stop. Except for a giant frigate bird hovering over above our heads there was nothing else visible part from waves slapping on the side of the skiff.
A NAI'A diving skiff during a previous Phoenix Islands expedition (Photo: David Obura)
"This looks good," Larry said, as we lowered a 150-foot line into the sea and prepared to dive. On this dive we were not going into look at fish or coral, but rather to survey the most abundant multi-cellular organisms on earth: Jellyfish, sihpnonophores, ctenophores and other gelatinous creatures that live in the open ocean water column, also known as the pelagic ocean environment.
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Living a Dream, Part II - Alan Dynner reports on blue water diving in the Phoenix IslandsLast Updated on 2009-09-15 00:00:00If you're a baseball fan and amateur player, how would you like to play for the Red Sox for a few weeks? Well, that's how I feel as a lifelong diver and ocean fanatic on this expedition, except that I don't run the risk of striking out or muffing a pop fly in front of millions of people. Yesterday we were at the Phoenix Islands atoll of Nikumaroro, a thousand miles from the nearest modern city (in Fiji) and the most remote part of the Pacific Ocean. And I had another dream day. First, I had an historic dive in 10,000 feet of blue ocean with the world's greatest expert on deep sea jelly fish, Larry Madin. This was the first time anyone had sampled pelagic invertibrates in this primal ocean. Larry, his wife Kate (also a prominent marine scientist at Woods Hole), and I put plastic screw lid sample bottles filled with water in our mesh sacks, then with Greg Stone as scientists and our... More »
Coral reef scientist Randi Rotjan answers student questions from the remote Phoenix IslandsLast Updated on 2009-09-15 00:00:00Note: Students from Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire posted some questions for Aquarium researcher Dr. Randi Rotjan in the comments section of this post. Due to Randi's busy dive schedule during the expedition and spotty satellite communications it took a couple days, but she has managed to respond here. Here are the questions with Randi's answers in light blue
Hi Randi- My students have been checking the blog everyday--and they are really enjoying following your expedition! They had a couple of questions for you.
First of all, wow! It's amazing to be quite literally in the middle of nowhere, and to receive questions and comments from you. It's really nice to have mail, and it's an important reminder of why we're writing these blogs. THANK YOU so much for contributing and for reading! Now, on to your questions.
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Reporting on fish populations coral bleaching in Nikumaroro, Phoenix IslandsLast Updated on 2009-09-14 00:00:00We arrived at the first Phoenix Island, Nikumaroro to incredibly calm seas, clear blue skies and dolphins swimming around the bow of the vessel. After five days of rough passage, it was welcome by all. It did not take long before the skiffs were in the water, our dive and science gear unpacked and readied when I found myself bounding off the waves on the fat pontoon of a NAI'A skiff heading to the tree lined shore of Nikumaroro.
Rainbow over the Phoenix Islands (Photo: Randi Rotjan)
The island lies flat across the horizon with green scaveloa bushes as the dominate growth with coconut palms poking up regularly and often up through to the sky. We sped past the wreck of the Norwich City, a freighter that went aground on the island in 1918 and now all that remains are the boilers and engine sitting high on the reef. There are other pieces of the ship scattered about the coral and... More »
Assignment Blog--Brian Skerry photographs fish in the Nikumaroro surf zoneLast Updated on 2009-09-14 00:00:00September 13, 2009--After nearly six days of sailing we reached Nikumaroro Island around 10:00 a.m. today. The tiny spec of land turned into a deserted tropical island clustered with palm trees the closer we approached. I had planned to use the days in transit to unpack and assemble all of my photo equipment, but the rough seas didn't allow for this. So, I spent the first several hours today doing this along with charging batteries and prepping my dive gear. I was able to get everything ready in time for a dive in the early afternoon.
Brian Skerry in the camera room getting ready to begin the process of unpacking and assembling photo gear (Photo by R. Rotjan)
I dove on the leeward side of Nikumaroro and from the moment I jumped in, two things were evident. First there seemed to be a lot of fish. Second, the corals here were in rough shape. As I mentioned in my previous post, coral... More »
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