A Fantastic Voyage

By Kay H.




The Seavie’s mission is a part of a 21-day survey for Conservation International’s (CI’s) marine Rapid Assessment Program (RAP).  On Seaview, international groups of marine scientists are joining for exploration of the area near Recife Domain and New Caledonia’s Northern Province reefs off Mount Panié.   The protection of this area’s unique environment of abundance of commercially important marine species is needed.  Lee and Chip had taken a working vacation in this area while Seaview was undergoing repair and refit.  Upon returning, they reported that the turquoise South Pacific waters contained spectacular sights … unbelievable never before seen marine creatures. Corals growing on top of corals and fish galore, both covering the full size and age ranges and in all shapes and colors … in such masses that have they have never seen before.  After months of planning with CI, the Seaview’s part of the team of local and international scientists was finally ready. The evaluation of the biodiversity and health of New Caledonia’s Northern Province reefs off Mount Panié, and their abundance of commercially important marine species was finally under way. 


The main goal of shallow-water coastal RAPs was to gather data for stimulating and supporting the creation of marine protected areas. The reefs off Mount Panié were in excellent shape with no evidence of destructive fishing practices such as dynamite or cyanide use, and no coral bleaching observed. Lee and Chip had reported after seeing this area the reefs were the healthiest seen in all their years of diving.*  Lee gave all of the credit to the local Kanak people, who designated some of the reefs as “taboo” sites, with a ban on fishing or collecting marine creatures.   He discovered the tribes had an incredible understanding and respect for their reefs, and managed them well. This provided a true haven for the threatened species, which are at risk of extinction.  Lee reported the knowledge of the local people should be included in part of any official management scheme.  Unfortunately the danger to the precious undersea wilderness paradise threats will continue, because the increasing worldwide demand for marine wildlife. 


Admiral Nelson was standing in the nose watching the diverse marine life swimming in this area.  He looked just below the reef edge into the deep blue and spotted a shadowy, streamlined shape. It was a shark, and the next thing he knew there were two, three, now four gray reef sharks swimming.  He was glad to know sharks were still around considering all the finning, long-lining, and nettings that worldwide killed hundreds of thousands each year. He turned away from this beautiful sight to pick up the mike, the divers needed to be warned of the sharks in the area even though they were not the potentially more dangerous tiger or bull sharks.


Admiral Nelson picked up the mike, double clicked and said “Sparks connect me with the diving party.”  As he waited he noted that there were six shark species—gray reef, white tip, silver tip, black tip, leopard, and bull. 


“Admiral, I have the link to the divers” Sparks said.


“Lee, I noticed a large number of sharks, what is your status.”


“Admiral we’re fine.  They’re ignoring the divers and we’re leaving them alone.  Our time is almost up, so we are coming in.  Is the next team ready to come out?”


“Yes Lee, let me check with the missile room.  I will go ahead and send them out.  Chip is leading the next team of divers.  Give Patterson the cameras as soon as you get back in, I want to see the pictures as soon as possible.  Transfer the specimens to the lab and I will meet you there.”


The Admiral double clicked the mike, “Missile room, go ahead and send out Commander Morton’s team.  The Skipper’s team of divers will come in as soon as they exit the escape hatch.


Crane entered the escape hatch and hands Patterson the cameras, then changes out of his diving gear.  He turns toward Patterson and says, “Pat, the admiral wants the pictures as soon as possible.  He will be in the lab.”   Meanwhile Kowalski has finished changing out of his diving gear.  “Skipper, I will take the specimens to the lab for the admiral to check.”

“Thanks Ski, also check and see if he needs any help cataloguing the items.  Then get some chow and rest before your watch.  We will be diving tonight again.”

 Lee leaves the missile room for the lab.  “Admiral, we have the night dives to finish in this area. Then unless you need more time here we will move on to the next location.  The Fam Island has an extraordinary reef “garden” of hard and soft corals in a rainbow of colors. The islands “mushroom” shape allows for a profusion of tunicates in literally every color one can imagine plus soft corals and sea fans in all imaginable pastel colors.   We can send out more divers to check this area, since the reef is flat and between 6 and 8 meters.  Admiral, why don’t I check the control room, then we can meet in the wardroom for lunch in an hour.   This way we can plan the order of the dives sites after the garden reef.”

“Okay, Lee.  I want to look over the areas suggested by the CI.  I also want to review the data on the “The Passage” and Mike’s Point to see where we need to spend the most time.  If I remember right each will present special challenges.  Then we can move to the deeper water dives, before investigating some of the wreck diving areas.”  Nelson suddenly looks thoughtful, “You know the time you and Chip spent exploring this area has been an enormous help.  I need to stop by my cabin and pickup the pictures you and Chip shot of “The Passage” while on vacation. *  We can examine them during lunch. If I remember correctly you have one showing the narrow channel between Gam and Waigeo islands.  It looked like a swiftly flowing river lined by a dense rainforest.    It didn’t look very wide, but there appeared to be a maze of rock islands in the passage.  The shady conditions and swift currents could create a unique, mysterious appearing environment where soft corals, sea fans and black corals could grow almost to the surface.”

As the Captain is leaving the lab Ski and Stu enter bringing the specimens collected from the completed dive.  The Admiral says, “Kowalski you and Riley setup the tanks for the specimens.  Make sure to rinse the tanks with water from the area, before filling with the same water.  These animals are so unique; I don’t want to take a chance with them.  I will be in my cabin for a while before meeting the Skipper for lunch.  Call me if you experience any problems.”

“Aye, Aye, Sir,” says Kowalski as the admiral leaves the lab.

Lee enters the control room, walks over to the chart table and then checks with Lt. O’Brien.  “Mr. O’Brien, how are the dives going?  Has Mr. Morton reported any problems?” 

O’Brien turns at looks at the Captain.  Sparks is maintaining contact with Mr. Morton and reports that everything is going fine.  They should finish up in another 45 minutes.  Then we will secure the diving operations until tonight.  Will you be leading the first dive?”

Lee turns from the chart he is examining and says, “Yes, I will lead the first dive and Mr. Morton the second dive.  The Admiral will monitor both dives from the observation nose.  The Admiral will lead the third dive if necessary.   I will be with him in the wardroom, if there are any problems.  You have the conn.”

Lee walks into the wardroom.  Cookie has cold cuts, breads, condiments and various salads set out for lunch.  The Admiral has not arrived, so Lee turns to Cookie and says, “It looks good.  I didn’t realize how hungry the diving made me.”

The Admiral hurries in.  “Lee there you are?  Let’s eat then we can go over the dive areas.”  They both prepare their plates.  After they finish eating, each gets another cup of coffee and they settle down to look at the photos the Admiral had brought with him.  “Lee, I was right look at this photo you took on vacation.  It shows a swiftly flowing river lined by a dense rainforest.  I think that we should use the Zodiac as a diving platform in this area.  The fast current and maze of rocks will present a challenge for the divers.  Since the passage is so narrow and the heights of the coral reefs just below the surface, it would be better to reach the area by surface boat.  The swim from the Seaview in this fast current would tire the divers too much, to allow them much less time for diving.”

“You have a good point Admiral,” Lee says.  Lee picks up the chart he brought from the control room.  “Shall we look at the Mike’s Point area now?”

Yes, Lee.  Let me think.  “If I remember correctly this island rises up with walls on two sides from a depth of 130 ft. In front of the South wall there is always a huge group of sweet lips.  We need to count them.  It has been reported there maybe more than 250 individuals around a gigantic boulder. A shelf located at approximately 80 ft is a great place to look for small creatures, such as the pygmy seahorse. Some particular species of sea fan are preferred by pygmy seahorses, grow on that shelf and we need to identify the different types of pygmy seahorses.  The bombing here during WWII created some interesting topography. Two chunks of the island were broken off by the bombing and it made a shallow tunnel beside the island. Golden tubastrea coral, tunicates and soft corals grow near the surface here.  What makes the region special is a combination of its topography and its history.  There is a mixture of deep basins and shallower waters. As global sea levels have risen and fallen over the millennia, the basins would have become isolated, allowing species to evolve differently in each, before being returned to the open sea when waters rose.  This region's active tectonics has very likely amplified this situation by, creating regular earthquakes and other upheavals.”

Lee asked, “So, Admiral in which order to you want to dive these sights?”  

Before the admiral could answer O’Brien called out “Skipper, diving party is returning.”

Lee turned to the Admiral and said “Shall we meet them in the missile room?”  Lee turned to pick up the mike, double clicked and said.  “Captain to the control room, the admiral and I will meet the diving party in the missile room.”  After the escape hatch open and the diving party enters the missile room,  Lee helps  Chip remove his diving equipment. 

Sharkey approaches Admiral Nelson, “Admiral I will have the specimens taken to the lab. “

The Admiral replies, “Thanks Chief, arrange for Riley to help you.  He knows how I want the tanks setup for the specimens.  He can start the cataloguing process as well.”  He then turned to Chip.  “Were you able to get all the samples?  Did you all cover the specified area, or do we need to send out another team? “

Chip turned to the admiral, “We covered everything planned on this dive.  We should finish this area with the night dive.  Are you planning on making one of the night dives, Sir?

Nelson just smiled.  “I planned on monitoring yours and Lee’s dive teams from the observation nose.  I might consider a short dive tonight.  I remember you and Lee telling me that this was the perfect area for night diving.  Chip, when you finish changing join Lee and I in my cabin.  We’re going over the schedule for the remaining dive areas.  I would like your input, along with Lee’s, since you both dived these areas in preparation for this mission.”

The Admiral and Lee leave the missile room for the admiral’s cabin.  Chip joins them a short time minutes later.     Lee turns to Chip and says, “We discussed the characteristics of “The Passage” and Mike’s Point along with the special requirements of each area.  For “The Passage I suggested we zodiacs, because of the fast currents and rocks, and we can use them as dive platforms.  This way we can spend more time diving without the tiring swim from Seaview in the strong current.  Do you have any concerns about “The Passage”, Chip?”

“No, Lee I think the zodiacs are a good idea.  Remember when we were diving in this area it was fantastic, but I glad that we went in by boat and we able to rest on them between the dives.  The current was fast, so we tired really fast and having the boat there let us spend more time in the area diving.    For Mike’s Point, we can use the crewmen who are certified for snorkeling and surface diving.  This would free up the divers for the deep water.  This would also reduce the time required for analyzing this area. Which area is is scheduled first?”

Lee glances at the admiral and says, “Well Admiral what do you think?  Maybe you will answer Chip’s question.”  Chip looks at Lee perplexed.  Lee laughs, “I asked that same question while you were still out on the dive.  I am still waiting for an answer.”

The Admiral just shakes his head and rolls his eyes at them.  “Okay, let’s do The Passage first.  Mike’s point is on the way to the southern shores of New Ireland and New Hanover (Kavieng area) as well in some areas of the Milne Bay. A very special characteristic this area for diving is the deep water, which comes very close to the shore. Only a couple of feet away from the beaches are vertical dropping reef walls which reach down to 1000 feet or more.   While the divers are in the deep water, we can have part of the crew on the beach documenting the marine life found there.  This should allow us time to check the sheltered bays’ delicate coral formations that are spreading to enormous size.  They cannot be found on barrier reefs, which is typical for Kimbe Bay in West New Britain. Also, I wanted to check the fantastic dive destination in the Eastern Fields which is to be found 170 km south west of Port Moresby.  They are located between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and are a truly unspoilt part of the Coral Sea.  After we finish the wreck diving, we should have time to check these areas.  I didn’t think that the schedule would allow us enough time for this, but your idea of using crewmen snorkeling, surface diving and documenting the beaches we should enable us to do that.  For the wreck that extend both above and below water, we can use the same plan as for Mike’s point.”


Over the next several days, all of the command staff including the admiral rack up plenty dive time. Even the crew had been busy with combing the beach, snorkeling and the shallow diving.  Jamieson also spent some time snorkeling and beach combing, when he wasn’t busy in sickbay.  He and his corpsmen have been monitoring all of the divers and other crew to ensure that no problems occur.  The Seaview finished the last dive area before starting the wreck diving.  Jameison walks into the wardroom and finds Lee and Chip finishing lunch.  The Admiral walks in right after the Doctor and sees Jamieson is smiling.   The Admiral turns to him and says “Jamie what are you smiling about?


Jamison laughs and says, “Now I know how to get the Skipper to eat.  Just let him spend most of the day diving.  He hasn’t missed a scheduled meal this trip.  I even saw him in here for snacks, instead of just coffee.  I bet if I weighed him right now, he will have even gained a few pounds.”   Lee lifts his head from his plate and smiles at them, then goes right back to eating.  The admiral and doctor sit down and Cookie brings them a plate.  The Admiral looks at Lee and asks, “Which wreck diving site are we checking first?”


Jamieson looks puzzled and asks, “Wreck diving?  What do you mean?”


“There are hundreds of wrecks, many of them W.W.II wrecks that are scattered across the area above and below the waterline. Boats, planes, barges and submarines, some of them still in excellent condition, have been transformed into living coral reefs. Several places to go for wreck diving are Rabaul, Kavieng, Loloata (Port Moresby) and Madang along with Wai Island. 


Lee looks up at the admiral and says, “We already surveyed one of the wreck diving sites while we were in the Kavieng area with the wrecks at New Hanover. Also you wanted to schedule some time at the Wai Island for night diving.   The wrecks in that area have great diving.”


The Seaview had finished the Kavieng area and was now at the Wai Island.  Two teams of divers were in the water.  Chip’s team was diving off of the wreck and Lee’s team was checking out the interior of the wreck.  Kowalski and Patterson, along with Dawson were diving with Lee.   Suddenly Chip heard reef-shattering explosions in the vicinity.  “Seaview, this is Morton did you hear the explosions?  Is there anything on Sonar?  Do you have any idea where it is coming from?  Has the Skipper reported in?”


Sparks turns to the Admiral “Commander Morton is reporting hearing an explosion.  I am still trying to contact the Skipper’s team.”


The Admiral asks, “Sonar anything on the scope? Did you pickup the explosion?”


“Yes, Sir, I just picked it up, but there are no ships showing in the immediate area.  There is a boat at the edge of the island, but it is mainly on the backside of the island.”


Okay Shores, keep a watch on it.  Inform me immediately if it moves.  Sparks have you reached the Skipper yet.”


“No, sir, his team is not answering.”


“Okay, have Commander Morton check on them, and then I want both teams back aboard immediately.”


Sparks says “Aye, Aye, sir.  Seaview to dive team 1, Commander Morton the Admiral want you to check out dive team 2.  We haven’t been able to get the Skipper’s team to respond.  After you meet with the Skipper’s team, he wants both of you back aboard until there is more information about the explosion.”


The Admiral turns to Lt. Obrien, “Bobby, as soon as the divers are on board, I want to head toward that boat.  I want to see if we can determine what caused the explosion.  You have the con; I will be in the missile room.  Sparks, transfer any calls from the divers to the missile room.  Also have Dr. Jamieson report there, tell him we might have some injuries.  Knowing the Captain, he probably has found some trouble.”


As the Admiral leaves the control room, Sparks receives a call.


“Seaview, this is dive team 2.” Patterson called.  “We have injuries and need assistance.”


The Admiral hears the call and turns around.  He approaches the radio shack and hold out his hand for the mike. “Pat, Commander’s Morton team is on the way.  They should be there any minute.  How many are injured and how bad?”


Patterson said, “Admiral, The Skipper is unconscious and has a bad cut on one leg.  Kowalski hurt his shoulder.  They were inside the wreck when the explosion occurred.  I see Mr. Morton right now; he has the Skipper.  We are heading back right now.  We should be there in about 5 minutes, Chief Sharkey has Ski.”


The Admiral turns to Sparks and says, “Update Doc on the injuries.”  He then heads to the missile room to meet the divers.  As he walks into the missile room he sees Jamie with corpsmen, and hears the escape hatch cycling.    He looks at Jamie and says, “Did Sparks give up an update?  They will probably have Lee and Ski in the first group, along with their support team. With that many divers out it is going to take longer to get everyone aboard.”


“Yes, Admiral we’re ready for them.”  The hatch opens and Chip and Sharkey are holding Lee.  Ski is standing next to them with his good hand on the Skipper’s back.  They have already removed Lee’s tank and it is sitting on the floor of the escape hatch.  “Chip, lower him right here.  Let me get a pressure bandage around the leg.  Let’s move him to sickbay.  I will remove his wetsuit there.”  They lay Lee on the stretcher and the corpsmen pick it up.  Jamieson turns to Kowalski.  Ski can you walk or do you need a stretcher?” 


Ski looks at Jamieson and says, “I can walk Doc.  Just let me get out of the wetsuit.”  Jamison shakes his head, “No don’t remove it.  We will help you out of it is sickbay.  I don’t want to take a chance on you injuring that arm any more.” 


The Admiral looks at Doc and says, “How is he?”  Jamieson turns to look at the Admiral and Chip.  “I don’t know yet.  I will let you know after I do a full exam on the Skipper.” 


“We will be in the control room if you need us.”  The Admiral looks at Chip, “Let’s go find out what caused the explosion.”  They walk into the control room.  Chip glances at sonar, and then walks over to Mr. O’Brien, “I have the conn.  Have there been any more explosions?  How close are we to the point of the island?”



“We’ve stopped on just this side of the point.  We recorded another explosion.  It looked like it came from near the boat.  When we raised the periscope, I noticed a lot of fish on the surface and the people from the boat were picking them up with nets.”



 The Admiral raised the periscope and took a look.  Then he turned to Chip and said,   “The CI previously reported there is widespread evidence of bomb-fishing.  This practice is used to stun fish, which are then collected for food, or used as bait for the shark fin industry.”   He suddenly looks excited.  “Mr. Morton, have water samples collected for analysis.  We should be able to use the collection devices in the nose and the moon pool.  Also have the diving gear rinsed with fresh water and collect the water used.  Have everything brought to the lab.  Be sure and record where each sample was collected.  I will check them later for cyanide. There have been reports of cyanide fishing.  Cyanide has been used to catch live lobster, grouper, and Napoleon wrasse for export to live seafood markets.  We heard about this business when we were investigating SCORIPO** at the marine conference on the environment last year.  This kind of practice will further threaten the marine ecosystems in the area.”



Chip immediately turns toward Sharkey and says, “Chief, you heard the Admiral, assign some crewmen to collect those samples.”  He then glances at the Admiral, “What do you want to do about the boat, sir.” 


The Admiral looks at Chip and says, ‘Right now we will just monitor it, unless it tries to leave.  I want to contact the Indonesian government.  My understanding is this area has been designated as a protected marine area.  I will inform them what we have observed and see if they want to handle the situation or do they want us to handle it.”   He walks over to the radio shack and says, “Sparks, get me the Indonesian government Department of Interior.  When you receive an answer, pipe it through to my quarters.  I am going to check in sickbay, and then will be in my cabin.”


He glances at Chip and leaves the control room.  He walks into sickbay and sees Jamie still working on Lee and Kowalski setting on a bunk with his arm in a sling.   Jamison looks up and says, “Admiral, I will have a report for you soon.”  He nods and leaves for his cabin.  A few minutes’ later Sparks calls, “Admiral, I have Mr. Rosina on the phone for you.  I am transferring it to you...” 


The Admiral says, “Thanks Sparks.”  Then he picks up his phone.  “Mr. Rosina, Admiral Nelson here.  We are off the Point of Wai Island.  We have observed a boat that appears to be bomb-fishing.  Is this area a protected marine area?  Do you want to the Indonesian Navy to handle this or do you want us to?”


Mr. Rosina says, “Admiral thanks you for your information.  Yes, it is a protected area and I would appreciate your assistance.  I look forward to reviewing your report and recommendation on the marine environment to the CI about our area.”


“Okay, Mr. Rosina, we will handle the situation and keep you informed.”  He hung up and left his cabin.  He walks into the control room and motions Chip to the observation nose.  “The Indonesian government wants us to handle the situation.  This is a protected marine area, so why don’t we surface right off their port bow.  We will board them and release the stunned fish, remove any additional explosive devices and warn them from the area.” 


Chip grins and asks, “What if they resist?  This could be interesting.  Have you heard anything on Lee?”


The Admiral shakes his head and laughs.  “Control yourself, Mr. Morton.  No, Doc was still working on him when I stopped by sickbay.”


They leave the nose and Chip walks over to check sonar.  He picks up the mike and says, “All ahead slow.  Prepare to surface.  Chief we will need a boarding party and sharp shooters on the deck.  We will board the ship, remove all explosive devices and release any live fish.  We will then escort the ship from this area.  Have the torpedo tubes loaded just in case we need them.”  Chip turns to look at the Admiral and asks, “Do you have any additional instructions?”  


The Admiral says, “Sharkey, while you are over there, check the captain’s cabin and the wheel house for any paperwork indicating who owns the boat, their home port or any information that will give us an idea of who they work for.  We might be able to get the ship’s registry and home port from the name on the hull, provided they have not been falsified.


The ship boarding goes off without a problem and the ship leaves the area without argument. .  The Seaview dives and heads for the Eastern Fields.  Mr. O’Brien enters the control room for watch change.  Chip turns and looks at him.  “Mr. O’Brien you have the conn.  I will be in sickbay checking on the Skipper.”


Chip leaves the control room and enters sickbay.  He sees that the Admiral is already there, sitting in Jamieson office talking to Jamie.   He had been so busy after the boarding of the ship; he hadn’t noticed when the Admiral had left the control room. He glances over at the bunks and sees that Lee is still out.  He walks into Jamieson’s Office and before he can says anything; Jamie holds up his hand and says, “As I was just telling the Admiral, he will be fine.  It took 20 stitches to close the cut on his leg and he has a moderate concussion.  He is not going to be happy, but his diving for this trip is finished.  How much longer is planned for this mission?”


The Admiral smiles and rolls his eyes, “We’re almost finished Jamie.”  He looks across at Chip, who nods. “We’re headed for the Eastern Fields now.  It should only take 1-2 days to complete looking over that area, and then we will be headed home.  How long do you plan on keeping Lee in sickbay?”


Jamieson looks at both Chip and the Admiral.  “As soon as he wakes up, he will start trying to escape from here.  I plan on keeping him lightly sedated until tomorrow.  If he runs his usual course on concussions, then he should be ready for light duty in a few days.”


They look at each other and grin.  Then Chip asks, “Can I sit with him for awhile.”  Jamieson looks like he his going to say something, when the Admiral holds up his hand.  “Chip, you have been diving as well as covering your own duty shift as well as all of the problems we have had to deal with.  You will be leading one of the diving teams tomorrow at Eastern Field.  I will lead the other one since Lee is out of commission.  You need to get something to eat and you need to rest.  You can check on Lee tomorrow.  I’m sure Jamie will call if there is any change.”  Chip looks unhappy and glances over at Lee’s bunk, but shakes his head and walks out of sickbay.  The Admiral then walks over to Lee’s bunk and starts to pull up a chair, when Jamie clears his throat and shakes his head.  “Admiral, you know what you told Chip?”  The Admiral looks confused.  Jamie continues,  “The same goes for you.  If you plan on diving tomorrow, you need to get some sleep.  The Skipper is just fine.  We will call you if anything changes.” The Admiral just nods his head and leaves. 


The next morning Chip walks into sickbay with his coffee cup on his way to the control room.  He looks in Jamieson office, which is empty, then quickly walks over to Lee’s bunk and pulls up a chair.  He sits down and studies Lee; who is still sleeping.  He turns as he hears a noise and the Admiral is walking up.  He jumps up to give the Admiral his chair.  They suddenly hear a laugh and look around toward the hatch.  Jamieson is standing there and says “I thought I got rid of you two.” 


Chip looks sheepish, “Doc it is the next morning.” 


Jamie just shakes his head and walks on in the room.  He approaches the bunk, “Gentlemen, would you step into the office a minute, while I check over the Skipper.”  He turns and reaches down to pick up Lee’s wrist.  He gently shakes Lee’s shoulder, “Skipper, can you wake up for me.”  Lee starts shaking his head and groaning.  Jamie says “Come on Skipper open your eyes.”


Lee finally says, “Do I have to?  I just want to sleep.  Leave me alone.” 


Jamieson laughs and says, “Open your eyes and talk to me for a minute, then I will let you go back to sleep.”  Lee just shakes his head and keeps his eyes closed.  “Okay, Skipper go ahead just sleep now.  We will try again later.”  Jamie walks into his office and holds up his hand before the Admiral or Chip can say anything.  “He is still disorientated and not fully conscious yet.  Don’t you all have a boat to run and some diving planned?  Check back later this afternoon, he should be more awake then.”



Chip enters the control room and asks, “Mr. O’Brien, have we reached the Eastern Field yet?”


O’Brien looks at him and says “We are entering the area right now.  I was going to call you.  Have you seen the Skipper this morning?  How is he?”


Chip grins.  “The Admiral and I just left sickbay.  He’s still pretty out of it, but Doc says he is doing fine.  He should be back on light duty in a few days.  Is the diving party ready for the first dive?”


“Yes, but I wasn’t sure who was leading it,” says O’Brien.


Chip picks up the mike.  “Admiral, report to the control room please.”  As Chip is finishing the call, the Admiral walks down the stair into the control room.  Chip looks up and sees him.  “We’ve reached the Eastern Fields.  Do you want to lead the first dive team?”


The Admiral looks around and says “Yes.  Then you take the next team.  I think that we should only need to make two dives.  Then we will use sonar and hydrophones to map the area.    We can collect any additional water samples through the Seaview’s collection ports.”



Several hours later after the completion of the dives, Chip stops by sickbay.  He is surprised to see Lee sitting up and eating.  He walks over to the bunk and says, “You’re looking better buddy.  You must be doing better for Doc to let you eat.”


Lee looks up disgusted “If you consider what Jamie thinks is appropriate, Jell-O and applesauce then you can have it.”



Chip laughs, “You know that is always Jamie’s first meal after a concussion.”


Lee turns and glares at him, “Status report.  What is going in with my boat?  What happened?  Where are we?  How are the dives going?


Chip holds up his hands. “Whoa.  What do you want first-answers or a status report?”


Lee looks bashfully through his eyelashes.  “Both.”  Chip hears a laugh and turns toward the door and sees Nelson and Jamison walking in.  Lee tries to lean out of his bunk to see what Chip is looking at and becomes dizzy.   


Jamieson sees Lee and yells, “Don’t move Skipper.”


Chip jerks around toward Lee and sees him almost falling out of the bunk. He reaches out to steady him.  Jamison and Nelson hurry over to the bunk, Chip is still supporting Lee.


 Jamie reaches out and says, “Okay Chip, let me give you a hand. Let’s lay him back down.”  After Lee settles down in his bunk Jamie does a quick check.  “Skipper how do you feel now, are you still dizzy?  Are you nauseated?”


Lee opens his eyes slowly.  “I fine Jamie.”


Jamieson rolls his eyes and asks again a little stronger, “Let’s try this again. How are you Skipper?”


“Really, Jamie, I’m fine.  I just moved too quickly.  The room is still spinning slightly.”


“Okay, Lee just close your eyes and go back to sleep.  You can visit with the Admiral and Mr. Morton later.”  He turns to look at the Admiral and says, “Gentlemen, the Skipper needs his rest.  Visiting hours are over; you can come back later.”


 The Admiral laughs and looks at Chip.  “Come on Commander, I think that we have just been thrown out.”


Jamieson walks over to the drug cabinet and gets a syringe.  He walks back over to Lee and reaches for his arm.  Lee quickly opens his eyes and jerks his arm away.  “Jamie, what is that for?” Jamieson puts his hand on Lee’s shoulder and says “It just a mild tranquilizer.  It will help you rest.”  Jamieson quickly injects the contents into Lee’s arm, then reaches down and pull the blanket up to his chin.  “Just rest now.”


Lee looks up at Jamison through his lashes and asks, “When can I get out of here.”


Jamison growls,   “If you’re clear of symptoms in the morning, and you rest quietly here this evening, I will release you to your cabin.  Now go to sleep.”


The Admiral and Chip both check in sickbay several times, but Lee’s asleep each time. The next morning Chip is eating breakfast in the wardroom, when the Admiral walks in.  He stands and says, “Good Morning, sir.”  The Admiral waves him back down to finish his breakfast and goes to fix his own plate. A few minutes later Jamieson walks in.  The Admiral looks up and says “Good Morning, Jamie.  How are you this morning?  How is Lee?”


“Jamie frowns and says, “I am fine and Lee is awake and already complaining to get out.”


The Admiral chuckles and asks, “When are you planning on letting him out?”


Jamieson grins and says, “After he finished breakfast, I’m planning on releasing him to his cabin.  The problem will be keeping him in his cabin resting and not walking all over the boat.”


“I have an idea,” says the Admiral.  “I need to start writing up the reports on this mission.  Would it hurt Lee, if I briefed him on some of the dive findings?  I can also fill him in on how he was injured and how we handled the situation.  Maybe if I give him too many facts and figures it will bore him to sleep.”


Jamison says, “That sounds like a good plan.”


A few hours later Lee is resting on his bunk in his cabin.  Nelson knocks on the door and enters.  “Lee, how are you feeling?  Do you feel up to hearing about the final figures on some of the marine life we found?”


“Yes Admiral.  Jamie insists that I stay here in my bunk today, or he’ll confine be back in sickbay.  I am bored, since he won’t even let me do paper work.  If I can help you at least I’m not wasting the whole day.”


“Lee, Jamie’s right: you need to rest. So you just listen.  In less than three weeks, we recorded a total of eight mantis shrimp species, 24 fish species, and 20 species of coral that are new or likely to be new to science. Many I believe to be unique to this seascape, meaning that they are found nowhere else on Earth. We also discovered several new species of "flasher" wrasses.  Remember they are named because of their brilliantly colored displays.  Normally the drab males flash to entice females to mate.  Only a few other fishes do, some of which are the fairy basslets, damselfishes, and a new jawfish.”  He glances up and sees Lee’s eyes beginning to droop, so he continues.  “When we finish compiling the results with the rest of the scientific teams, I think that the final record, show a total of 1,233 species of coral reef fishes.  I think that at least 23 of them will be endemic to this region. They have also recorded more than 600 known species of coral. It looks like this area has the highest diversity of hard corals ever recorded, each with more than 250 species within a single hectare of sea. These reefs seem to be 'species factories' which require special attention to protect them from unsustainable fisheries and other threats.”  There is a soft knock on the door, before the Admiral can answer the door opens and Jamieson sticks his head in.  He looks over at the Admiral with a raised eyebrow.  Nelson quickly gets up and walks to the door and motions the Doctor into the hallway.  “He just fell asleep.”


Lee sleeps into late afternoon and wakes up when he feels a hand on his shoulder.  He slowly opens his eyes and looks up at Jamie.  “Hi Jamie, what time is it?” 


“Dinner time Skipper.  Are you hungry?  Do you feel like going to the wardroom or would you like a tray? 


Lee sighs, “No, Jamie, I’m not hungry.  Just sleepy.”


“Okay Skipper, just go back to sleep, I will check on you later.  Maybe you will be hungry then.”  Jamieson leaves Lee’s cabin and heads toward the wardroom.  As he about to enter he meets the Admiral and XO. 


Chip looks around and does not see Lee.  He says, “Where is Lee?  Is he alright?”


Jamieson shakes his head and laughs. “He’s in his cabin, still asleep.  I woke him up, but he said he was still tired and only wanted to sleep.”  Laughing Jamieson says “Admiral, now I know how to get Lee to rest after an injury.  I’ll just have you read him a dull report. Think of all the money you would save on tranquilizers and sedatives, as well as the wear and tear on your CMO.”





Author Notes:  Thanks as always to Sue for Betaing this story.  Her advice is invaluable as always. There are references to my previous stories * Working Vacation and ** The Unsettling Disappearance.  It is not necessary to read these stories to understand this one.  Conservation International’s articles are the sources for the descriptions of the marine life in this area.