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You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/journals/into the murk/


Ship Logs

Into the Murk, Maro Reef
Posted by: Brian Hauk, Safety Diver, Documentation Team
Underwater Photography by Jim Watt
September 15, 2002

Maro Reef Rainbow.Woke up this morning a bit late, it was 7:30 and we were still in transit. I was lured downstairs by the smell of French toast and sausage. The captain gave an announcement that there was a pod of dolphins off the bow riding the ship's wake. I scurried upstairs to get my camera and headed to survey the excitement. We had a double rainbow off in the distance and a dozen dolphins leading our way, not a bad way to start the day.

Our plan was to follow the maritime archeology team in hopes of documenting their investigation of a 528ft navy tanker that went down in 1957. The ride out was a wet one. I had luckily ended up on the leeward side of the tender, but I can't say the same for my friend Carlos, our expedition writer. He was getting soaked constantly from which we all got a good laugh, especially when he donned his mask, snorkel, and hood as we continued on our zodiac ride. I almost fell off the boat from the sight of him geared up and taking on the sea.

When we reached Hans, the leader of the archaeology team and his crew, they were going over various coordinates they had for the supposed tanker's grave. The water was murky and resembled a giant lukewarm bowl of split pea soup. We decided to help them scout and donned our snorkeling gear. We dropped in a mile upstream from the 1st set of coordinates and began to work our way down, sweeping through the murk with our eyes. I watched as Carlos free dove down, disappearing into the green. He would be out of sight for a good thirty seconds before emerging, trailing bubbles on his race back to the surface.

The water was eerie and I didn't want to be in there alone. My eyes were playing tricks on me, turning shadows into objects that weren't there. That's always when the Jaws music theme starts to hum in my head (duh duh, duh duh…). I was certainly glad when we decided to 'call it quits.' The ocean is big and can easily make a 600ft ship disappear like a needle in a haystack.

The search continued as the archeology team put on their tanks and made a series of sweep passes down below, where the visibility wouldn't be such an obstacle. That dive apparently turned out to be quite strange as well. Still near the surface, we followed the divers' bubbles waiting to hear what they might have found. When they surfaced, they had nothing to announce besides the 7 to 8ft shark that was circling them on their safety stop. Once again I was glad to be back on the boat thinking of what I was going to eat for lunch, rather than what was going to eat me.

Before stopping for lunch, our tandem skiffs made the 2.6-mile journey to the next set of coordinates. This second search area was much more inviting. It was littered with shallow coral heads and large stretches of reef. We ate our lunch and instead of continuing to follow the archaeology team, we decided to 'bag' the ship hunt for the day. We then checked out a shallow section Maro Reef split image.of reef just beyond the boat's position. This area was colorful and abundant with fish. Now that's what I thought this place would look like! We snorkeled, taking pictures for about and hour and a half. It was now getting late and we decided to head back to the ship for some much needed dry clothes and stability. We wove our way through the shallow reefs and came upon a flock of sea birds feasting on a bait ball of small fish. We pulled closer and noticed a large school of tuna and a dozen sharks also taking advantage of this buffet. From there we headed home, traveling through one of the most isolated places on Earth back to our 'home away from home,' the Rapture. We didn't get any SCUBA dives in, but we sure did laugh a lot and came back with some good pictures too. Round II tomorrow, who knows what it holds!

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Brian Hauk


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