Ocean News

Fun and Games

4th January 2009

More fun and games with equipment today.

I had quite a successful afternoon safe in the knowledge that I’d fixed the leak that had caused yesterdays headaches. I managed to get some nice ‘in your face’ shots of whale sharks ram feeding (a behaviour where the sharks swim through the water near the surface, quickly extending their mouths to suck in large volumes of water and filter out the plankton) and also some shots of three whale sharks in the same frame feeding vertically in the water column. It feels good to have something in the can.

As the sun set and nighttime approached, I set up our large topside light at the back of the boat to make the first attempt at trying to film the whale sharks feeing at night.

After a few hours our first shark arrived, and started casually swimming in and out of the shaft of light and occasionally feeding vertically at the surface, it looked amazing and I was keen to see how it looked underwater. I filmed some topside footage for a while, and then decided it was time to get wet.

I opened the underwater housing to change tapes, batteries, and also some camera settings that cannot be accessed through the housing, and found to my horror that the leak I thought I’d fixed had persisted and water had again entered the housing. I had taped a tampon underneath the part that was not sealing properly, just as a precaution, and luckily this has absorbed the majority of the salt water that had entered the housing.

Not prepared to risk diving with the system again, I stripped the housing down once more, and cleaned up any residual water that not been absorbed. I do not have the spare part I need to fix the housing. I think an o-ring has become compressed over time and now is not sealing properly even though its been cleaned. I wish I had a spare. I’ve arranged for another housing to be sent out to Djibouti, it will arrive in time for the second week of the expedition.

In the mean-time, I’ve set the housing up with more tampons and absorbent cloths underneath the malfunctioning component, if I get another opportunity to dive at night with the whale sharks, or if we come across another mass feeding aggregation, then I’ll risk taking the system in, but not for normal whale shark encounters. Until I get the other housing, I’m now focusing on capturing the topside component of this story.