Expedition Log #6, Reported for: 11 July 2003
Reported by: Nan Marr
Location: French Frigate Shoals
Weather: Sunny with puffy clouds
This morning, at 0900 hours the C Team, renamed very quickly by its members to the "SEA" Team, made its second dive. The first dive was off the deck of the Searcher, with team members Jean-Michel, myself, Ronda (finally out of the galley and into the water!), Tove, who served as videographer, and Jim Maragos.
We dove together for the first time yesterday morning and had a great time filming a beautiful sea urchin called Astropyga radiata that Jim had only seen two times before. We saw seven of them. They looked like miniature spaceships from above, with a five-pointed star showing through spiny fields of sleek and gracefully moving spines. They scooted like hovercrafts across the sandy ocean floor. The spines are poisonous, needle-like darts that pierced through Tove's 3-millimeter suit as she was recording our discovery and gently bumped one with her leg. Ouch! Yikes! She's OK, although her leg has some pretty ugly purple spots.
The land teams left early this morning to film the albatross and tiger sharks with Paul Atkins, Mark Gerasimenko, Matt Ferraro, and Tom Ordway onshore at East Island and with dive team Ed Cassano, Yves Lefevre, and Matt in an offshore zodiac. Manacat transported another topside team with Antoine Rosset, Mike Westgate and Beth Flint to document the hundreds of nesting sea birds on Tern Island.
Meanwhile the Sea Team went on their second dive under the keel of the Searcher. Today, we were given a "mission" to relocate the Astropyga radiata, which had evaded the A Team yesterday, after the Sea Team's discovery.
Entering the water from the Searcher is easy; it's just a step into the cool, blue, invigorating water. We slowly descend down the anchor line to the bottom, nearly 80 feet. It's a sandy bottom, and we start scanning the ocean floor, looking for our sea urchin. Since we saw it just yesterday, it was easy to spot again, and not just one, but a group of 5, with yet another small loner and a tiny baby, skittering around on its own. We even found and filmed a Magnificent Snake Eel. We now have A and B team members asking to dive and to be part of the Sea team!