|Brian Skerry in the camera room. |
© Brian Skerry/National Geographic Magazine
We are now at sea, having loaded the vessel and gathered most of the people. Unfortunately, one member, coral biologist Dr. Jim Maragos, missed his plane to Fiji from Hawaii and we had to leave without him. The first day on an expedition like this is consumed with sorting gear and settling in.
The ship was a beehive of activity; HD camera gear there, microscope here, plankton net stored under that, diving gear up there, and where do we store the liquid nitrogen canister?
The list was endless. One very unusual item was the hyperbaric chamber. Because we are going to such a remote place we have brought our own hyperbaric chamber, which will allow us to recompress a diver should they spend too much time underwater and suffer from decompression sickness.
After sorting gear, we also had our first team meeting before dinner – where we discussed objectives for the expedition. Tukabu Teroroko, the director of the PIPA gave a stirring speech about the importance of PIPA to the country of Kiribati and the value of our research expedition to monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of PIPA.
He specifically praised the
|Testing the hyperbaric chamber aboard NAI'A.|
partnership between Kiribati, Conservation International and the New England Aquarium on PIPA. Very importantly, PIPA has been nominated to UNESCO as a world heritage site for its natural and cultural values. Our trip will help support if the nomination.
Now it is early morning, the day after departure, and I am in the ship's salon writing this. The diesel engine of NAI’A hums in the background and everything is gently rocking back and forth. We are still under the protection of the Fijian Islands; we have another 12 hours before we get into the open ocean where waters will be rougher. So we settle in for a four day trip to PIPA continuing to prepare science gear, continuing our endless discussion about PIPA’s fish, sea jellies, coral, tuna, and continue to hope that the open ocean portion of our journey will not be too rough.
– Gregory Stone, PIPA Expedition Leader
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