Friday, January 20, 2006

Johnston Forereef

16 43N x 169 21W We spent today out on the northern portion of the forereef of the atoll. It was pretty cool, but you can tell the area gets totally pounded in the winter. We must be hitting a really lucky calm spell. The weather and seas were spectacular today. About a 6 foot long period swell which was pretty nice and almost no wind. It was great. On our first dive we saw a number of gray reef and Galapagos sharks and a few spotted eagle rays. Other than that, the large fish population was conspicuously absent. Not quite sure why. Most of the bottom was coral pavement primarily composed of Acropora (table coral) skeletons that have been turned over by the waves. This seems to happen a lot here. There were a number of live table coral colonies as well, but not as many as I would have expected. The wave energy keeps the number down I suppose. Our later dives had even fewer large fish. There were still clouds and clusters of smaller fish, but again, not as many as I would have guessed.

Tomorrow we plan to continue around the eastern end of the atoll, exploring areas where we have not yet towed.