Flinders University 2007 Field School
in Underwater Archaeology
14 February 2007
By Mark Opdyke
Today was the first day that the Mellow Yellow team had to dive in more then a meter of water to attempt underwater archaeology. That’s right! We were on Star of Greece at about 4.9m. We had a fantastic dive plan involving all four team members who planned two great dives on the site. Alas, no matter how amazing the dive plan is – things happen.
Divers discussing the site plan.
During our first dive we had some strong surges making half of the group feel… sick? The other half felt fine but one of the members lost a weight belt which, in turn, caused the loss of a dive knife, weight, and slate which were recovered while the team member recovered the weight. In all, we still accomplished our goals during the first dive including pictures, biological surveys of the site and a basic site plan of the area we were surveying.
The second dive included a similar plan to the first. We wanted to continue the mud map/survey of the area and try to measure and draw the bow of the vessel. This turned into the team getting… sidetracked… in transit to the site from the beach. Our dive officer had to pull us via dive float in the right direction. We then decided to use a tape to try to measure the bow, one of the most diagnostic sections of the vessel. In turn we ended up with another lost weight belt, my regulator being entangled trying to help the swimmer recover the weight belt and a tape wrapped around the yoke of my tank. During the second dive not all was lost as we did get some more mud mapping of the bow section of the ship completed and many valuable lessons learned. The number one lesson of the day….“stuff happens,” and no matter how amazing and well thought out a plan may be… well…..yah.
Student mapping a section of the shipwreck Star of Greece.
Long story short, we had some great weather, very extreme surge, poor visibility, lost weight belts, fantastic pictures, and gained some amazing experience in terms of planning. Additionally, we had a pod of dolphins swim across the site just after we returned to the beach. I’m not going to lie, there is little more beautiful and relaxing than dolphins swimming over a shipwreck. Also, we had a fantastic team building day where we leaned that in poor situations including loss of weight belts that team members will be there to help you out; even if that help is in the form of a rugby tackle to the bottom of the sea floor while you try to put you weights back on. I know, it might not have been the best plan in the world, but it was the first thing I could think of at the time. Little did I know that she would have stolen my regulator in the process? Thankfully, we have a spare for a reason. In all, good day, a lot was learned, and I can’t wait till tomorrow to dive!
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