Dreams and Airplanes - Updates from
the R/V Townsend Cromwell (9/22
by Stephani Holzwarth and Joe Chojnacki
Photography by Jim Watt
22, 2002. Kure Atoll.
All we do is eat, sleep, and dive. I see fish and blue water
when I close my eyes. We towed all around Kure, and fish
and benthic teams did drop dives in all corners inside and
out of the atoll. I like the simple fish- razor wrasses
for one. They are the color of white sand, with a dark blotch
on their side. I flew past one hovering over the sand. First,
it tried to hold so still I wouldn't notice it. Maybe I've
flown over a bunch of other razor wrasses and not noticed,
but this one could tell I saw him. So he screwed up his
back into an S, and then shot into the sand. Pretty neat
trick. I ran my hand into the sand at the spot the fish
disappeared, like a monk seal might do for a snack, but
he was gone. ? Don't ask me where. Speaking of eating- diving
makes me so hungry! I devour lunch by 10am most days. Brian
calls me Velociraptor. ;o) For dinner I ate a huge plate
of jambayala, topped it off with a slab of chocolate cake
with sprinkles and 3 scoops of icecream, and my belly didn't
even feel full when I climbed into my bunk an hour later.
23. First thing this morning we deployed one of those 1300
lb Ocean Data Platforms (ODP) that measures water currents
and temperature. Rusty and Joe scoped out a flat spot in
95 ft of water and marked it with a float and anchor. The
ship drove up next to the float and lowered the ODP over
the side, depositing it on the bottom. Nathan Hill, our
captain, is so good the ODP was no more than 15 feet from
where it needed to go. Brian, Bill, and I dove on it and
moved it to a pocket of flat sand between two reef ridges.
a few tows in the afternoon, we drove across the atoll to
the shipwreck on the far side. A young monk seal played
peek-a boo with us through one of the holes in the wreck.
We secured a small temperature recorder to the reef flat
to monitor water temperatures in the shallow reef flats.
Four huge ulua circled around us, intently interested in
our grubbing around on the bottom. I swam around the wreck,
peering into the dark cave of the hull. Two threadfin butterflyfish
appeared out of the gloom and a few tinsel-colored squirrelfish.
I was surprised to see day fish and night fish mixed together.
This seems to be everyone's favorite little hiding spot.
24, 2002. I've recruited my fellow diver Joe Chojnacki to
write an e-journal entry.... Today we went towboarding both
on the inside and outside of Kure Atoll. The underwater
life is completely different on the inside than it is on
the outside, so when we work at an atoll, I don't feel like
I've really understood the place until I get to see both
neighborhoods. The outside gets lots of currents and pounding
waves - especially in the winter - and the inside is a lot
more protected- kind of like a swimming pool. This means
that on the inside you see lots of young fish and small
fish that are built for poking around in calm, shallow areas,
while on the outside you see lots more adult fish, plus
the big guys- sharks and jacks. There's lots of neat stuff
to see on the inside of atolls, but I think the outside's
my favorite because of the cool caves and canyons formed
by ocean waves and currents. Today on the outside my dive
buddy, Brian Zgliczynski, and I towed over a long stretch
of spur-and-groove reef. That means that instead of being
flat, the reef is wrinkled like a washboard so that it forms
big hills and valleys of coral, sometimes dropping 50 feet
from peak to bottom!
on our tow this morning we saw a lot more than just neat
reefs; we made a discovery of something no one's ever seen
before (I think)! Our dive took us to 60 feet, where there
were long ridges of reef separated by wide channels of sand.
We were towing along counting fish and corals when Brian
pointed at something lying in the sand. It was long and
straight, and had a box attached to one end. Brian signaled
to me that he thought it was a machine gun, but I thought
he was nuts! Sure enough, though, a few seconds later we
came across the wreckage of an old plane just lying in the
bottom of a sand channel. The first big piece we saw was
part the plane's wing. We could see that the landing wheel
was folded up inside the wing, like it does after it the
plane takes off. A couple minutes later we came across another
big part of a wing, but this one was a lot more twisted
up than the first one. It looked like it had been underwater
a long time, and who knows how it got there? We never found
the body of the plane, so it's just waiting for someone
to come along and discover it! But I'm happy enough with
our little find; it's the first wreck I've ever discovered,
and something tells me I won't forget it anytime soon!