Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Lagoon at Johnston

16 46N x 169 29W A much better day of towboarding today. The weather cooperated a little more (aside from a few nasty squalls) and I seem to have picked better sites all in all. We had a few camera problems in the morning and so only got in 4 tows instead of 5, but 4 is better than none. I am still beat, but it is much nicer to be beat after a good day of towing than beat down after a bad one. No large fish today, but the coral was spectacular! We were towing along the inside of the reef in the lagoon, which is much more sheltered than the forereef. Some of the Acropora table corals were 6-8 feet across. It was wonderful. Visibility was good, it was pretty warm, much better. Hopefully the same will hold true for tomorrow...

Towboarding yesterday was crappy because it was windy, cold, and the visibility stunk. The morning was ok but then the wind started to kick up. We tried to tuck in around the south side of Johnston island after our mid-day switch-out, but the visibility was terrible. We had to abort the dive after less than 5 minutes. Then we decided to head further south where it was deeper and hopefully less murky. It was deeper, but also much more wavy. We went down and found it to be pretty murky at the bottom. That and, with the waves, our shoulders were almost being pulled out of their sockets! I had my board yanked out of my hands once. That's what we have the drag line for. I caught it quickly and was back on the board in less than a second. Then another gray reef shark came by. it really wasn't any more threatening that any of the others we have seen, but with the poor visibility and rough conditions, it made me a little less comfortable. I decided to abort the dive and we started to head for the surface. Just then we took a really hard jerk and the benthic tow line snapped. I quickly tied off the benthic line to my board and the boat spun around and pulled us in. All in all, not the greatest way to end the day. Today was a nice change. There were a few nasty squalls with driving rain, but the tows were all really nice. I am beat, but it is a good beat this time.

We have 3 more days at Johnston and then 4 days of transit to Howland where we will spend 2 days before going on to Baker. It will be nice to have a bit of a break, but I will have a lot of data sheets to enter, a video log to fill out for all of our tapes, and then my dissertation proposal to write. No rest for the weary.