Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Lost a couple of days blog, working too hard! Went into Nassau with DJ, found the aquarium shop where it had a notice not to leave your fish in the car as you might boil them! Coffee at Starbucks and then on to the airport to extend the car hire by a couple of days. When I got back to Stuarts Cove diving, Peter Scoones was there helping Mike to get the HD camera working. They all went off diving me and  Peter chatting over a veggie burger. He told me the story of how he filmed the Coelocanth in the harbour of the Comoros islands for life on earth. Apparently he had been filming a volcanic eruption, and got back to his hotel at around 3.am. Before being abl;e to sleep someone rushed into the hotel saying that there was a live Coelocanth in the harbour. As I am sure you all know the Coelocanth has been dubbed a living fossil from the age of Dinosaurs. This is because it belongs to a family of fish call the Crossopteridgia, which were considered to have become extinct at the end of the Mesozoic era. So 65 million years later stories emerged of fishermen in the comoros island catching a bizarre type of fish in their nets, and the first time these were examined by a biologist they wre amazed to find themselves in the presence of a denizen from ancient times. Back to the story and Peter only has 3and a half minutes of film left in his 16mm camera. He jumps into the harbour and finds that the fish which id=s about 2 metres in length has been wrapped in chains beneath a group of boats. He decides to free it and although it is alive it is very weak, he wanted to lead it into open water for filming by holding its lobe fins, but sadly the chains had cut into them, so he carefully  holds the mouth, at which point it bit him! Probably the first and last person to ever be bitten by a Coelocanth, as we will probably be extinct before them! The rest is history as people around the globe saw for the first time a living Coelocanth in Attenboroughs "life on earth." 

Friday, 25 July 2008

Snorkelling the wreck

Up at seven, went for a swim in the sea just as the sun was coming up. The others went off to film James having a diving lesson in the pool. I headed off towards Stuarts Cove, and had an interesting dive round the headland. There is still some ancient forest here which is now a reserve also archaeologists have found evidence of the first sttlers in the the Bahamas which date to around 1500 years ago. When I arrived at Stuarts Cove Adriana met me at the gate and thought I was a tourist which was vaguely amusing. I soon set off back to Lyford Cay in search of a hardware shop, where I bought various containers for plankton samples and a large tarpaulin as Adraiana was paranoid about her carpet. the others turned up as I got back and we all got ready fgor the afternoon dive on the wreck. We headed out on a hard boat for about 5 minutes. David Jones the diving officer briefed the two rebreather divers and the trainee James, while being fimed on DVcam (Scot)with a sound recordis (Simon). Dougi was feeding James soundbites, while Miranda was sheltering from the sun. The DV cam housing leak indicator was playing up so there were a few false starts but eventually things settled down. Got in a gorgeous snorkel session, looking at the sunken boat from above, tried to touch the top which was about 10 metres but got within two feet of it before I had to give up, later with practice I was able to touch the wreck. On the way back deployed the plankton nets, got some good samples but unfortunately most were dead by the time the boat had docked. This is a problem that needs overcoming, so tomorrow will attempt to bring em back alive using aerators.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Setting up at Stuart Coves Dive Bahamas

Mike Pitts makes a brill cup of tea, after a light breakfast set off with Dave Wright to Stuarts Cove. Driving on the left in ight hand drive car is quite tricky, anyway made it ok. The dive centre is like something from a James Bond movie (Thunderball, Casino Royale was filmed here). The equipment seems to survived the flight so spent the day settong up ready for filming.

The flight

Woke up at 4.00 am and after a scant breakfast of banana and cereal was picked up by a car at 4.45. John Chambers  had already been picked up and we set off along the M4 to heathrow. There were 60 cases to load up onto skycap trolleys. Once at the check in desk I almost had kittens when the BA person said the maximum weight for each case was 35kg, luckily Neil Lucas persuaded them that the agreed limit was 50kg. Big relief once on the plane watched the movie Cold Mountain and fell asleep. Arriving in the Bahamas to a balmy heat was most pleasant. I was driving one of the hire cars and to my horror couldn't find the gear shift, ventually got to our accomodation, I was sharing a house with Neil, Jon and Mike. Went for a meal up the road, took ages to be served and they forgot Neils altogether!

tuesday 22 July 2008

Finished packing late afternoon, afteral most giving myself a hernia putting my microscope cases into the back of a Kia Carens, I set off for the Natural History Unit in Bristol. Arrived there about 6.00pm and left my 6 cases with all the other crews equipment. Finding Martin Dorns and Hilary's house was quite a challenge but once there was treated to a really tasty supper prepared by Martin. Left for the Victoria Square hotel quite late, but was in bed by 11.30.

Monday, 21 July 2008


Plankton fiming can be complicated so a shitload of equipment has to be bubblewrapped, packed and ready to use at the other end. The objectives are to film a wide variety of plankters including a Chaetognath predation sequence. Also known as Arrow worms these torpedo shaped predators have been found as fossils among the Chengjiang fauna of China, which is a lower Cambrian 520 million years old lagerstatten deposit. The extant species look remarkably similar to their fossil counterparts, so it will be exciting to film such ancient predatory behaviour.