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expeditions/August/September 2007/Pearl and Hermes
6 - Pearl and Hermes Atoll
by Carlie Wiener
here to see where the Hi'ialakai is now.
here to see current data from the ship.
Last night we finally arrived in Monument waters. The ship
took quite a large turn which triggered some upset stomachs,
nonetheless we are finally here! I
went out on the boat deck last night and spotted some bright blue phosphorescent
organisms in the water, it was really neat. This morning everyone was up bright
and early loading their gear into designated areas. I am surprised by the fact
that we can still only see water; even though Pearl and Hermes is a sizeable
Launching HI 1 for Steve Karl’s coral research
team , Carlie Wiener.
The maritime archeology crew pull away from the ship
to embark on their exploration of Pearl and Hermes, Carlie
All the scientific personnel meet right after breakfast
to discuss the last minute boat changes. Nothing is really
static, and much of the work is weather dependent. There
was some concern about launching the zodiac boat during rough
seas, but the waters seemed to calm down this morning and
everyone is happy to finally be on our way. I have been fortunate
enough to travel with Dr. Rob Toonen and the invertebrate’s
team on the zodiac today, otherwise known as Team Z. Since
we were launched last everyone pitched in to help see the
other teams off. The crew on the boat work very hard lifting
the day boats on the cranes and into the water. This is much
more of a process then you would image, not only do the boats
need to be deployed but all the diving gear, equipment and
lunches for the day need to be placed in the boats. Once
we were off, the zodiac headed straight for shallow reef
area where known invertebrates (animals without a spine or
backbone) are located for collection.
Dr. Rob Toonen investigates invertebrate sample
collected on dive, Carlie Wiener.
A few sea birds follow
us out from the boat, and it amazes me at how far from land
they travel. The sites we are exploring today are on the
north western end of the atoll. This is unique as usually
the weather patterns make this side of the atoll to rough
to travel around. It is so fascinating to think that we are
diving in a place that may have never been explored before.
GPS units are used to navigate the boats out in the water.
I never realized how important this technology was for marine
science. The Z team completed two dives throughout the day
brining up sea cucumbers, hermit crabs, crown of thorn starfish
amongst other invertebrates.
Assisting researchers obtain a sample by holding
the sea cucumber from the collection, Carlie Wiener.
The team completed a third collection
stop in shallow reef area which made for amazing snorkeling.
I am so taken back by the reef development, the size of the
corals and the variety and size of the fish. The first time
getting into the water in the Monument was very surreal,
it was my “ah ha” moment, “so
this is what a reef is supposed to look like”. It excites
me to see what pristine, untouched reef actually looks like,
and it would be so great to see the reefs of the main Hawaiian
Islands restored to this level. This place really is so special
and I am so happy that it is protected for future generations.
From Pearl and Hermes Atoll a
Derek Smith investigates coral for invertebrates
at Pearl and Hermes, Carlie Wiener.
here for maps of the region