23 May 2013 – Laysan Island Day One

Ready to dive

Ready to dive

We had our first of three diving days here at Laysan Island, and for the afternoon team, we started out with one of the best dives of the trip. Perfect surface conditions, small swell, light winds, bright sunshine and clear waters. The morning team dropped on 210’ of perfect white sand, and swam for 17 minutes looking for something, anything. They found nothing and surfaced a grumbly lot. We moved to an alternate site, and hit the jackpot. Lots of structure, some caves, walls, black corals, a gorgonian (rare in Hawaii) and lots and lots of fish.

Naso maculatus

Naso maculatus

Decompression Ono

Decompression Ono

Pseudocaranx cheilo

Pseudocaranx cheilo

I recorded eleven new fish records for our database, as well as a few personal first time to see and video. I have attached the thick lipped jack and the Ono pictures. While deciding on dive sites, we picked up a few pieces of marine debris, the last of which was a crate, with a small school of jacks underneath. I dropped in and filmed a pilot fish (Naucrates doctor) which was cool. I’m afraid though, that as we cleaned up the ocean, the little school lost it’s protective cover, and the circling Jacks and Rainbow runners likely had a free lunch.

Lots of sharks on the dive and on decompression, including a grey reef which I haven’t seen yet on this trip. They keep things interesting in terms of things to watch and film, as did a cocky group of giant trevally winding their way through our group. About 45-50 minutes of decompression – luckily for me, I was almost clear when a school of 6 or more Ono (Wahoo to you UVA alum) swam by. I was able to get one really nice clip with the sun on his back as he slowly swam by. Way cool fish. Ono in Hawaiian also means delicious. Within the National Marine Monument, taking of fish for anything other than science is verboten. That will change once we leave the monument and hit Johnston Island. The crew is starting to sharpen their fish hooks…

I stalked the red tailed tropic bird, and got a few shots that I am pleased with. Apparently, the Bishop Museum has a cape from ancient Hawaii, mad entirely out of the red tails from this bird. Many birds must have been used to make a full sized cape like that – would be hard (and illegal) to find that many today. I also attached a tern shot – still trying to learn the difference from the sooty tern and the grey backed tern. Need to study.

Conditions are supposed to be perfect again tomorrow. We ran a multibeam sonar along the 60m ledge that encircles the island, hoping to find a better spot for the morning team than they had today.

Still hoping to get on island to see the duck(s)…

tern - laysan

Red tailed tropic bird

Red tailed tropic bird

Red tailed tropic bird

Red tailed tropic bird

 

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