July 27, 2000
Tomas Krasuski, Expedition Leader
Today was the first day on Roi-Namur. While Gator, Cliff and Mark flew up to Roi with most of the equipment on the 4-engine Dash-7 plane yesterday, Jonathan and I drove "Spare Time" across 42 nautical miles of very calm lagoon. Personally, I think we had the better deal.
Being the first day in a new location, we had a lot of preparation work to do. Transportation was arranged (a golf cart), tanks were filled and the rebreathers were rigged for the next day's dive. Before we knew it, the sun was beginning to set and we hadn't even done a dive. Feeling a little deprived, Jonathan, Gator and I decided to do a night dive off of the Yokohama Pier. Last time I dove the pier was with Jonathan about 6 years ago. We were curious to see if any of the interesting critters were still around. Mark decided to take the night off.
After filing all of the required paperwork (night walk-in dives are monitored by the local police force to make sure everybody returns from the ocean) we suited up at the pier at around 7:00 PM in front of a curious audience of Marshallese kids and adults. Jonathan and I started talking about one particular stonefish that we used to see in the crevasses of the pier back in 1994. There used to be a pair of stonefish right around 5-8 feet of water.
Jonathan was the first one in and found a stone fish about 15 seconds after entering the water in about 4 feet! I couldn't believe it, how lucky, and it was right out in the open posing for him, not stuck in some little crack like they usually are for me. I watched for a while and then moved down the wall of the pier a little and found a very cool banded coral shrimp that played with my fingers for a while. Gator had gone past us and was in deeper water (a whopping 8 feet!) I decided to move out to the sand.
Out on the sand I came across several mantis shrimp. These are the kind that have extremely sharp edges on their claws. They lie very stealthily in the sand waiting for their prey to swim by and strike it with their claws, killing the prey in seconds. They are not to be reckoned with, as a curious diver sticking his fingers in a mantis shrimp's face can find himself with one very mangled hand!
Meanwhile, Gator was chasing some white skates in the sand. His big HID lights lit up the ocean for a hundred feet, so we always knew where he was. He later complained that all the skates kept swimming away from him, but it was no mystery to us why they would do that. He probably burned all their retinas out!
Well, it was a great way to start the diving on Roi. As the week progresses, we will hopefully have many adventures diving the amazing airplane wrecks that this place has to offer.