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You are here: /main/research expeditions/May 2005/Day 1 Midway Atoll

Midway Atoll, Day 1
by Kelly Gleason, Maritime Archaeology Team

Spinner dolphins.

This morning we woke up after the night’s transit to see the booming metropolis of Midway Atoll. After fourteen days at sea conducting hours of productive field work, Midway has been an eagerly anticipated destination. Tonight’s plans for a BBQ on the pier where we are currently docked has everyone looking forward to the steward’s take on outdoor cooking. We launched the small boats this morning, and all teams had busy days planned before the evening’s activities.

The maritime archaeology team led by Hans Van Tilburg returned to two wreck sites that they had documented in 2003. The wreck of the submarine rescue vessel USS Macaw wrecked on the reef at Midway Atoll in 1944, and the wreck of the three-masted sailing vessel Carrollton wrecked at Midway Atoll in 1906. These are both beautiful wreck sites that add to the historic record of maritime activities at Midway Atoll. We were accompanied on our survey dives today by the film crew who is taking footage of the wrecksites for a short maritime heritage video that we are putting together as an outreach tool for maritime archaeology in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. For maritime archaeologists, Midway Atoll is loaded with history and potential heritage resources. These two wrecks are just the beginning of the potential for maritime heritage management at this atoll.

The two fish teams headed out in tandem this morning to get samples for the connectivity study led by Brian Bowen. Jeff Eble, who works with Brian came back from work today excited about the presence of blue striped snapper. As we put away our dive gear this afternoon, Jeff’s immediate response to how his day went was an enthusiastic “beautiful day! Beautiful spot!” The blue striped snapper is an important fish for their study because it was a species that was introduced in the main Hawaiian Islands several years ago. The fact that they are now seeing it in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands adds to their work on the genetic dispersal of fish in this region. Carl and Yannis deployed a fish transceiver at the same location this morning. These transceivers help Carl and Yannis determine which of the fish and sharks that they are tagging have been in the vicinity. They will return to collect and download information from the transceiver in about three months. The morning was full of data collection for the fish team. In addition, Randy collected sand samples for Harvey which he took back to the ship and processed for benthic microalgae so that he is able to do stable isotope analysis on them. This is part of the trophic food web study that Harvey and Randy are working on. Harvey continued to process tissue from fish that were collected this morning for stable isotope analysis.

It never ceases to amaze me how much data the scientists are collecting on a daily basis. Fourteen days into our projects and no one seems to have lost their energy and enthusiasm. Every day when I ask people about their day they are continually awestruck by the things that they see, and the new places that they have gone. Jen Salerno and I were discussing at breakfast this morning the incredible opportunity that we have to visit spots that we are probably the first people to lay eyes on. Every day is rewarding, and every day we are reminded of the importance of the work that we are doing and the incredible opportunity that we have to be here.




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