Posted by Dr. Hans Van Tilburg, Maritime Archaeology and
History Team Leader
most obvious wreck on Laysan is the Kaiyo Maru no.
25, a Japanese fishing vessel that went aground in 1969
at the south end of the island. While the wreck was relatively
intact in the early 1980s, it is now a testimony to the
incessant power of the ocean. Only the bow section, twisted
steel and broken decks, emerges now from the beach sand.
Large sections of steel hull were torn from the vessel and
are buried nearby. Towards the end of our photo documentation
of the ship's bow today, a monk seal emerged from the waves
near the vessel. We retreated to leave the animal in peace.
The rest of the ship may lie offshore in the surf zone,
or perhaps it's completely buried by the beach. We'll dive
the area offshore tomorrow.
team hiked the perimeter of Laysan Island today, observing
all kinds of flotsam and jetsam tossed onto the beach: buoys,
fishing gear, disarticulated ship timbers, glass bottles,
deep sea data collection devices, and plastics of all kinds.
The remains of a small bamboo raft, once lashed together
with black nylon line, are puzzling. The bamboo raft tradition,
one of the most ancient roots of shipbuilding, has been
observed in modern times in places like Southeast Asia.
But would a small bamboo boat survive a long drift at sea
to a place like Laysan Island? It's possible that these
pieces are what's left of a fish aggregation device (FAD),
small rafts built to drift at sea trailing lines or nets.
Such objects attract fish and are later located by radio
the more historic wrecks in the area, no trace was seen
of the Hawaiian schooner CC Kennedy, which went aground
on Laysan in bad weather in 1905 (crew rescued 20 days later).
Likewise, the Ceylon, one of the oldest ships in
the local Hawaiian trades, vanished in the general area