The Light of Dawn (and Smell of Bird Poo) at Clipperton Island

It’s been a fantastic first day here at Clipperton Island: We arrived before dawn and knew that we were getting close to the island because we could smell the thousands of birds from miles away!

The early pre-dawn light brought the birds into flight and they were soon helping us prepare for diving by hanging around on our decks and in the workboats. This was quickly followed by a spectacular dawn accompanied by large schools of bottlenose dolphins. A great start to the day.

The atoll is so small that it doesn’t offer true shelter from the oceanic swells and big waves—they simply curl around it, making for big dumping surf on all beaches. Team member Christian Jost has been here four times and knows it so well that he is known as “Monsieur Clipperton.” His work begins with camping on the tiny beach for three days. With careful timing and skilled boat handling we got Christian ashore—wet, but very happy.

The submarine made a dive to 750 feet, the science and media teams made two dives, enthusiastic topside filming has been from drone, ship, and workboats, the two Drop Cameras were deployed at 600 and 1,000 feet, the Pelagic cameras were deployed for the day and the stereo video lander array is on the reef.

On top of that the weather is perfect—it’s windy enough and the surf is big enough to command respect and gives us a hint of how wild it can be, and yet the conditions are totally workable.

It’s only day one. This is the start we hoped for and we love this place.

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