Latest News
For Teachers
For Keiki (Kids)
About the Area
Photo Images
Video Images
Maps and Satellite Images
More Info

You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/journals/FFS Day 2/


Ship Logs

Liquid Ceiling (9/12/02)
Written By Carlos Eyles
Underwater Photography by Jim Watt

The Rapture, contract Research Vessel.  Photo by Jim WattThe sun, not yet breaking the horizon, stains the tip of the low clouds tangerine. Shaped like horses they seem to surround us, as though we were in the center of a freshly painted carousel. For the first time since we have begun this journey the sea is still, no wind to shake her skin and rattle our bones. The day bode glorious as the sun breaks over the sea, like and acetylene torch cracking on. Our Expedition documentation team will be the first to leave today.

Gone are the first day's jitters and glitches from the teams and crew. The crew, most, if not all of them, are life guards recruited off the beaches of Southern California. They are a hard working, well oiled machine. Their tasks are considerable, filling seventy-five scuba tanks daily, meals, maintenance, off-loading the eight and ten man zodiacs each and every morning, six in all, then off load the teams, lately in stiff swells that prove to be the most dangerous moments for the expedition. Then, of course, operate the boats to far flung places and returning us safely each day. Today with the swell down and little wind, it will give everyone a chance to breathe without the tension of injury constantly hanging over our respective heads.

Yesterday afternoon we dove La Perouse Pinnacle. The photographer, Jim Watt needed shots of the corals out that way, but the tide in this strange area was either going the wrong way, though no current was evident, or the considerable wind shift stirred the water up. In any case, the visibility was quite low, no more that a disappointing twenty-five feet, of very hazy water. By some miracle I managed to spot a ten foot manta ray in the gloom and pointed it out to my dive buddy who initially could not see it, only that I was pointing. He swam in that direction and saw his first manta ray, and was delighted with the brief encounter. This morning we are returning to La Perouse, and I hold doubts. However when we arrive, the water appears clear and decide to make my first scuba dive of the expedition.

Acropora wonderland at FFS.  Photo by Jim Watt.While I prefer to free dive, it does have its limitations. Generally a free diver can get much closer to wildlife than a scuba diver, but here the fish have never seen a scuba diver, they have no fear. It seems they possess either curiosity or indifference. I dive down with the grand luxury of breathing underwater which is startling clear. The landscape of the far-flung reef lies out endlessly before us. There is something intrinsically relaxing when moving unhurried along a seascape garden filled with a pulsing life that become the beat of my own heart. Soon I fall into some altered state, that I feel coming on as I relax deeper and deeper into the dive. It is almost hypnotic, and it is this state, I think, why humans are so drawn to the ocean, particularly one that is overflowing with life. It is as if the ocean itself begins to flow through me, as if one is touching it from the inside out. I drift, as if flying in ultra slow motion-on slow breaths over a molten carpet of yellow fields, over alabaster sand valleys, with cliffs of dark prisms bounding towards a liquid ceiling. Fish of every shape and hue painted neon with the startling brush strokes of Salvador Dali; striping their wingless bodies in scarlet over lilac, bolts of gold, sprays of indigo with burgundy mouths and mauve tails with lavender fins and cerulean heads with amethyst eyes. I have no sense of swimming, more like flying in dream state, the ocean filling me with that which I cannot fill myself. Great coral gardens rise before me, as though the most meticulous sculptures materialized out of the hand of God, a gem cutter's masterpiece would pale before such a work. Upon the sculpture floats a thousand butterflies whose dances could not be choreographed by the most vivid of human imaginations. I am swept away by the beauty, my mind does not, cannot, conjure a thought before the scenes that play before it.

As the dive progresses, my eye, perhaps because it is overwhelmed, drifts to the minutiae of the reef. Another world reveals itself peeking out of the corners of the reef, and of my mind. The minuscule live in worlds no larger than a goose egg. There they mate, defend, procreate and die. I wonder what they see when we are eye to eye, do they see another world as I do? They seem not to fear me, their tiny markings of white on black, azure on ruby, cherry on sapphire are hieroglyphs of a language I do no know and cannot speak, yet can appreciate.

Giant Trevally.Throughout the dive two large ulua (jack fish) follow us, like stray dogs, in search of an owner. They pass within inches of each of us, looking into their predator's eye it is not unlike peering into the eye of a bird of prey. It is a hunter's eye, it misses nothing. They show a total lack of concern toward us, yet curious they are never far away. Even when two white tips sharks appear they treat them to the same indifference. There are mysteries upon mysteries in this water so rich with life; language, mystery, magic, and beauty all the essential elements of life, and of healing. This abundantly healthy place is a healing place of the highest order. A place to begin to heal the deep wounds of the planet, and in the doing perhaps to begin to heal ourselves.


<<Journals Home

Home | News | About | Expeditions | Photos | Video | Maps
Discussions | Partners | Teachers | Keiki | More Info | Search
Contact Us | Privacy Policy
This site is hosted by the
Laboratory for Interactive Learning Technologies
at the University of Hawai`i