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Voyage to Kure: Expedition Diaries

<< Expedition Diaries | About the Islands

Day 18: HD Technology Underwater

Mark Gerasimenko. Photo credit: Tom Ordway
Click to enlarge

Despite the wind, rain, salt and sand, the cameras are working flawlessly. In addition, HD has been very empowering when it comes to the challenges of capturing the underwater world.

- Mark Gerasimenko, High Definition Technician and Assistant Cameraman


Pearl and Hermes Atoll

Date: 7/24/03
Location: N27°47.06' W175°50.3'
Weather: 25 knots
Sea Conditions: Swell has picked up, making it very
difficult to dive anywhere except the south end of the atoll

On Day 18, the team has hopes of diving and filming extensively on their fourth and final day at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, but the weather -- gloomy with gale-force winds -- is not cooperating. They succeed in getting in two dives, including one where they dive with four sleeping white-tip sharks. But then the tide changes, and they experience what looks like an underwater sand storm, with visibility decreasing from 80 to 20 feet in less than 10 minutes. At midnight, they hoist the anchor and begin the journey to Midway Island.

Mark Gerasimenko, High Definition Technician and Assistant Cameraman:

I have been avidly diving in Hawaii for the past 10 years and loving every minute of it. However, several of my dive buddies who have been diving for well over 30 years often tell stories of how prolific the marine life used to be, and I would try to imagine what it must have been like. Now that I'm here in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, I know exactly what they were talking about -- not only the abundance of life, but the variety, size and proliferation through the water column.

A banded cleaner shrimp, Stenopus hispidus, photographed during the wall dive under the ship, Pearl and Hermes Atoll. Photo credit: Tom Ordway
Click to enlarge

On a technical note, high definition filming is truly showing what a strong and versatile format it is. Despite the wind, rain, salt and sand, the cameras are working flawlessly. In addition, HD has been very empowering when it comes to the challenges of capturing the underwater world. Shooting underwater and capturing what the eye sees is extremely difficult. What makes it difficult is the fact that there are many variables involved -- light, color, depth and visibility. If just one of these variables changes, it has a direct effect on the other. Go just 20 feet deeper, the less light you have, less color, and the bluer and darker the background becomes. HD allows us to compensate for these variables in the camera while underwater. In addition, the divers are using rebreathers that allow them to stay down silently for hours at a time. The average film camera only allows around 10 minutes of film per dive, whereas the HD camera has 54 minutes of tape with two hours of battery time. This gives the divers a chance to take advantage of their rebreathers and stay down longer, allowing them to capture natural animal behaviors.

Factoid

Unfortunately, the trade winds have been blowing nonstop since the beginning of the expedition.

What's good

It has been a pleasure working with my friend and mentor Paul Atkins again, as well as Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Ocean Adventures team. Another great thing that I have been able to experience is going ashore on different islands and observing thousands of seabirds up close and watching their natural behaviors. Amazing.

What's bad

Bird guano! And the fact that all my dive buddies from Hawaii Kai are not here to experience this with me.

What's fun

Standing on the swim step and watching a huge school of 35- to 70-pound ulua circling the back of the boat at the surface, day in and out for the past three days.

Life aboard the Searcher

Is extremely busy but despite the pace, good food and smiles prevail.

Rest and relaxation activities

Watching the crew carrying on at night.

Three great things

Going someplace you have never been before, wildlife, wine.