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Author Topic: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro  (Read 14679 times)

Friend Weller

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Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« on: November 11, 2011, 01:25:23 PM »

Ric,

Thank you for posting the overflight video of Nikumaroro (http://www.youtube.com/user/TIGHARchannel?feature=mhee).  Combined with the Discovery Channel program, one really gets a sense of the island as it is today and as AE and FN probably saw it in 1937.

Thank you again!

LTM,
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« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 10:36:18 PM by Friend Weller »
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 02:30:57 PM »

I'll second that  :)
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richie conroy

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 05:02:35 PM »

Ric wat happened with the quick sand  ;D
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 06:24:57 PM »

Ric wat happened with the quick sand  ;D

I thought you'd never ask. 

It was on the 1999 trip.  Most of the work was focused on looking for airplane debris along the shoreline and back in the scaevola along the Nutiran shoreline. It was miserable work involving cutting transects back into the bush a hundred meters or so every 20 meters along the shore while scanning the ground for anything interesting.  Sometimes the scaevola was so dense you couldn't cut your way through but had to clamber over the top and just look down. This was known as "working the high scaevola."  It was dangerous because the scaevola was only marginally strong enough to support a man's weight and if it gave way you'd fall about five feet down onto coral rubble.

A secondary mission on that trip was to try to locate the place where Gallagher found the bones.  The file in the Tarawa archives proving that the rumor about a castaway's bones being found was true had been discovered in 1997.  We had tracked down the rest of the British correspondence about the bones in England in 1998.  But Gallagher's description of where the bones had been found was fuzzy.  One clue was his comment that the box built to transport the bones to Fiji had been made of kanawa wood from a tree that stood on the lagoon shore near where the bones were found.  Kanawa doesn't grow everywhere on the island and one place where it once grew in abundance was a small peninsula called, aptly enough, Kanawa Point.  One day a small party - me, Russ Matthews, John Clauss, and Dr. Kar Burns - took the lagoon skiff to check out Kanawa Point.  As explained in the video, Kanawa Point is flanked by shallow inlets.  We drove the skiff into the eastern inlet but it ran aground a good fifty meters from shore.  Using the outboard was out of the question. I sized up the situation and said, "No point in you guys getting your feet wet.  I'll just hop out and pull us the rest of the way in to shore."  At which point I vaulted over the side and disappeared.  What I had assumed was hard bottom was silt the consistency of soupy oatmeal that was deeper than I am tall.  If I had not had a hand on the rope that ran along the skiff's gunwale I'd probably still be down there.  As it was, I was clinging to the side of the skiff for dear life.

Now, you might think that my esteemed colleagues would react with alarm and immediately rush to my rescue - but that's not the way it works out there.  Once they saw that I had a grip on the rope and was not in imminent danger of slipping away to a horrible death, they decided that the spectacle of me hanging by one arm, up to my chest in silt and up to my chin in water was just about the funniest thing they had ever seen.  Eventually they stopped laughing, dried their eyes, and hauled me out.
 
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richie conroy

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2011, 09:22:41 AM »

 :) luv it has made my day that  :),

makes u wonder if anything else could av been less fortunate to sink there like airplane debris   :)
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2011, 09:31:37 AM »

makes u wonder if anything else could av been less fortunate to sink there like airplane debris   :)

That's a good point.  There's a big tank from Norwich City washed up on the lagoon shore in that vicinity so we know that stuff that floats through the main channel can end up there.  Finding anything buried in the silt will take sub-bottom profiling sonar - but that's doable.  Just a question of money.
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 09:35:00 AM »

Have you ever used a dredge on Niku?  Amateur gold miners use some pretty compact and portable ones that move a lot of material.
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 09:38:50 AM »

Have you ever used a dredge on Niku?

No.  We actually bought one once but never used it.  If we were able to get promising targets in deep silt with sonar, a vacuum dredge would probably be the best way to check them out, but dredging blind wouldn't make sense.
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richie conroy

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 09:47:41 AM »

if u pause video on 2mins 37sec if u look at front ov ship there is some kind off spill or path going from it to sand bank does any 1 know wat it is as i thought debris from ship went to right ov ship not left ?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2011, 09:55:51 AM »

if u pause video on 2mins 37sec if u look at front ov ship there is some kind off spill or path going from it to sand bank does any 1 know wat it is as i thought debris from ship went to right ov ship not left ?

What you're seeing is not a spill or path.  It's the border of a change in the texture of the reef surface.  Shoreward (left) of the "path" the reef surface is rougher and more pock-marked than the smoother area closer to the ocean.
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richie conroy

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2011, 10:08:14 AM »

cheers always wondered about that  :)
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Dale O. Beethe

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2011, 06:36:04 PM »

"Now, you might think that my esteemed colleagues would react with alarm and immediately rush to my rescue - but that's not the way it works out there.  Once they saw that I had a grip on the rope and was not in imminent danger of slipping away to a horrible death, they decided that the spectacle of me hanging by one arm, up to my chest in silt and up to my chin in water was just about the funniest thing they had ever seen.  Eventually they stopped laughing, dried their eyes, and hauled me out."


Mr. Gillespie, you must have the same friends I have!  (I'll have to admit, I'd have laughed, too!)
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Chris Johnson

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2011, 02:20:18 AM »

Its human nature to laugh in the face of danger.  I remember my walking companion miss timing a jump over a peat bog on the pennine way and ending up waist deep in the stuff.  It was a full five minutes until I could get myself together from laughing and pull him out.
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2011, 06:55:49 AM »

Is the "quicksand" silt deposit a permanent feature?  That is, does it form in the same location despite storms that wash through the lagoon?  Are there other "permanent" features in the lagoon, or does the character of the bottom change from visit to visit?
What is the potential to trap material (freighter parts, airplane parts, TIGHAR researchers, etc) in some location or feature that might persist for 70 years?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Aerial Tour of Nikumaroro
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2011, 07:20:44 AM »

Is the "quicksand" silt deposit a permanent feature?  That is, does it form in the same location despite storms that wash through the lagoon?

Its appearance does not change in aerial photos and satellite images over time so I would guess that it stays pretty much the same. It's a pocket in the lagoon shore so it should act as sort of a "catch basin" for anything that washes into it and doesn't actually wash up on the shore. I can see a piece of floating wreckage running aground just like our skiff did and the buoyant object eventually losing its buoyancy and settling down into the silt.  All theoretical of course, but an interesting possibility.


  Are there other "permanent" features in the lagoon, or does the character of the bottom change from visit to visit?

I don't know about the nature of the bottom but the nature of the lagoon itself does change.  During WWII the water is said to have been quite clear.  In our experience it's cloudy, especially if the wind is kicking up the surface.  One factor seems to be the condition of the small southern passage (Bauareke).  The larger and more open it is, the clearer the water in the lagoon.


What is the potential to trap material (freighter parts, airplane parts, TIGHAR researchers, etc) in some location or feature that might persist for 70 years?

We've found stuff in the lagoon that has certainly been there since the colonial period (at least 40 years) so there's no reason to think that the potential does not exist for things to survive in the lagoon for longer periods.
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