Cocos Island Expedition AUG 20-30, 2009: Day 2

After getting two of yesterday’s turtles weighed, measured and transmitters attached, we’re off to Dirty Rock, a seamount named for the large number of stains on the rocks from the nesting boobies who make it their home.  Our first early morning dive has me sitting at 110 feet with a gear gun, waiting for hammerheads to swim within 1 meter, so I can collect a small biopsy for future genetic studies of the sharks.  Scores of sharks are swimming by and finally I aim and shoot and hit the shark squarely on the mark—right below the dorsal fin.  The shark, startled by the prick takes off.  Unfortunately, so does the entire shaft holding the biopsy tip, as the retrieval wire breaks and the shark swims off.  With only a few minutes of air left, I return to the panga slightly disappointed, but amazed by all the close encounters with these magnificent and beautiful fish.  On the way back to the main vessel, the Argo, we are accompanied by a pod of bottlenose dolphins…  I return on the next dive and search for the shaft unsuccessfully, submerging to 130 feet, the maximum depth for diving with our special mixture of oxygen & nitrogen.  Dive three ends when I catch a 70 lb female green turtle and deliver her to the panga.

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