A diver near the conning tower of the U-352. (Photo: NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)
Today was our first day of diving on the U-352 [Watch the video - 10MB Quicktime]. For our orientation dive on the German submarine, we were greeted by 60+-foot visibility and warm water temps. On these first few dives, we focused on camera work, taking video, and photo mosaics to be used later in mapping the wreck.
The sub is like a fish magnet, drawing in baitfish and larger predators such as amberjacks and great barracuda. The wreck was also covered in lionfish, a non-native exotic found in the Indo-Pacific that has found its way into North Carolina waters most likely through the release from personal aquariums. In addition, angelfish, wrasses, and a wide variety of small fish could be found hiding in the crevices of the wreck. We made two dives today, both to about 110 feet, with bottom times around 20-25 minutes. Overall it was a great orientation dive for the U-352.
We have had two weather days, with 4-6 foot seas keeping us from diving. This break has given the archaeologists some time to catch up on mapping the U-352 and processing many of the pictures and photo mosaics that will help in studying the German sub. I have upgraded the lighting set up on my HD video camera, with a borrowed set of HID lights from the ECU dive team. The 4-5 foot spread and eerie glow of the lights make me look like an underwater alien spider, but they improve the color rendition at these depths. The additional lights also proved helpful as the visibility has decreased to below 25 feet. The tasks today included additional film and video work as well as mapping and measurements on the wreck. We made two dives again today and hope to get another in before leaving Morehead City for the next leg of the expedition out of Oregon Inlet.
John McCord recording underwater. (Photo: NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)
Well, we made one more try to dive the U-352 July 12, but were met with six-foot seas on the sub and were unable to dive. We moved up to Oregon Inlet July 13 and made a single dive on the U-85 July 14. Poor visibility of less than five feet limited us to a single dive that day but things improved today. The visibility seems to be getting better with 10-12 feet on the sub this morning. We were able to map most of the sub forward of the conning tower and are looking forward to improved visibility throughout the week if the weather holds. The U-85 is covered with colder water species, as this sub is found closer inshore than the U-352 and farther from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Black sea bass, trigger fish, and spadefish were the common fish species today, with a small school of jacks found higher in the water column. This wreck is a little shallower than the U-352, our maximum depth on the two dives today was right at 100 feet.