July 23, 2000
Greg "Gator" Brunshidle - Assistant Photographer
Our day began early with Jonathan Bird holding a meeting with the dive team to review the day's photographic assignments and review storyboards with Mark Miller and Tom Krasuski. A series of shots were needed at a greater depth than usual and it would be necessary to work very efficiently in order to be able to capture the necessary shots to complete our Akibason Maru segment.
The primary series of shots would include Miller and Krasuski entering the number two hold where they would find a set of float plane pontoons. Of great interest to the team was some Japanese writing that was found on one of the floats. We wanted to shoot the writing so that Tom's wife, Heather Castile-Krasuski, who is fluent in Japanese, would be able to translate the writing. But I couldn't help but tease Miller that the writing said "Not a Step - Do Not Stand". After examining the pontoons, the explorers moved from the number two hold to the number one hold by passing through a hole that has opened between the two holds. In the forward hold, the divers found the sole of an old shoe and then moved further forward to examine a set of airplane wing frames that presumably were destined for the seaplane base at Ebeye.
After this series of shots were completed, Jonathan concentrated on gathering additional exterior shots as the Miller / Krasuski dive team explored the gangways, decks, and superstructure of the ship. The dive clock was ticking down so these shots were taken while the team moved their way to the aft mast where our ascent / descent line was located.
It's always a good idea to keep an eye out around you as you ascend from a dive. My experience has been that you'll see some of the coolest things when you least expect to; such as at the end of a dive. Well, today certainly proved that rule! As we approached our safety stop and 50:50 offgassing mix, a beautiful eagle ray glided gracefully by. In my opinion, eagle rays are one of the most beautiful fish in the sea. Their shape, their grace, their polka dots (hey, what's with the polka dots) make them very distinctive and wonderful.
Our day was concluded with a screening of Oceanic Research Group's recently completed television documentary "Beneath the North Atlantic" to a packed house at the recreation center on Kwajalein. "Beneath the North Atlantic" is a natural history film focusing on the waters of Massachusetts and Maine. The audience, including many warm-water divers, were thrilled to see aquatic life so different than their warm (very warm) waters in the central Pacific. We then treated the audience to a short showing of some of our rushes from the prevous days filming. Afterwards, many questions were answered and there was an opportunity to purchase signed copies of Jonathan's companion book "Beneath the North Atlantic" and Mark Miller's "In the Arms of the Sea".