September 28st: A Day on the Hi`ialakai
Written By Dan Suthers September 29-30th, 2004
Having had two days in the field, and considerable backlog in my writing, today I stayed on the Hi`ialakai. ET Mike Crumley had fixed the antenna first thing in the morning, so as soon as we found each other I conducted a long upload of my work of the past several days. The remainder of my day consisted of some reorganization of this site and further writing, punctuated as usual by unexpected events and discoveries.
The past few days, the Fish and Towboard Team divers had brought David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton a large collection of fish to photograph. They are spending all day and evening on this task, so I feature their work today: see this story on Creature Portraiture. Some of this material is based on a subsequent interview with David, a summary of which will appear on this site soon.
We are not alone in this area: the vessel Casitas has been conducting marine salvage in the area. Specially trained divers locate marine debris such as discarded or lost fishing nets, and remove them from the reefs to minimize damage. (Seals, turtles and fish can get caught in the nets, and they can abrade the coral.) The Casitas has offered to give us some of their excess gasoline, as our launches are using more than they had anticipated. In return, we are resupplying them with another fluid they have depleted: soda. In the early afternoon, HI-3 returned from the Casitas with three barrels that were unloaded by crane.
At dinner, I hear discussion of a shipwreck discovery. The salvage ship Casitas working in the area had found some man-made artifacts. Today, our Fish Team had taken time to investigate, and indeed found clear evidence of at least one shipwreck. Everyone is speculating: could this be one of the whaling ships for which the atoll is named, the Pearl and/or the Hermes? More about this tomorrow!
After dinner, the bridge announced that they had some "man overboard" devices to dispose of, since they were past their expiration date. These floating devices are thrown overboard if anyone falls off the ship. They have two lights on them and also let out thick orange smoke. Since the floating device will drift in approximately the same way that a person will, the device makes it easier to locate a person after the time it takes to stop a large ship and deploy launches.
As on most nights, the Towed Optical Assessment Device (TOAD) was deployed for depth videography at dusk and into the evening. Tonight's novelty: wire coral  at 100 meters! We have not previously seen wire coral on this trip. It looks like someone has taken very large pipe cleaners, twisted them into spiral forms, and stuck them in an ash-covered sea-bottom. Around some of the coral we see small fish and shrimp.
 Hoover (1998)