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2010 Battle of Atlantic Expedition

Blog: June 26, 2010

John Wagner
Marine Archaeologist
NOAA Resources Protection Team
National Marine Sanctuaries Photo Gallery
Mission info 2007 Nancy Foster Cruise

Here I am again, the third Battle of the Atlantic Expedition, and I am wondering if I will finally meet him and his fellow kind. I have heard so many rumors about how the shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast are loaded with them. In as many dives as I have made on the WWII shipwrecks off the coast, however, I have never seen him raise his snarled teeth.

As I approach the edge of the dive platform I wonder if this dive will be any different. Will I finally meet him face to face? Will I squeal with fright through my regulator upon seeing him? Only one minute of dropping through the water column and 90 feet of depth will reveal the answers to these questions.

Brian Harper Diving.
Shark swimming around the Dixie Arrow. (NOAA)
Dive, Dive, Dive, comes the command from the divemaster. As we begin our descent, all things appear optimal. There is no current, all divers are descending as a group, and the wreck begins to become visible at 60 feet. As we hit the bottom, I look around and feel almost disappointed, he has yet to show his face again.

I quickly adjust my buoyancy so that I am floating slightly above the surface of the wreck and begin my dive. About 30 seconds later, however, I glance to my right and cannot believe what I am seeing. Finally, after three years of Battle of the Atlantic Expedition dives, I glimpse my first sand tiger shark and he has brought a friend...

As I glance at the two of them, I am amazed. They just hover there watching us begin our dives. I do not feel any anxiety about their presence and simply mutter to myself, "Ah, there you are," as if we are long lost friends. Although it is my first time seeing these docile sharks, it almost seems as if I have always been diving amongst them. As I stop to watch one of them swim by four feet in front of me, as curious of me as I am of him, I suddenly remember I have tasks to complete.

Quickly I grab the slate and pencil that are attached to my BC and begin making a quick sketch of the Keshena wreck that we will use to determine where to place the baseline and how to go about mapping the wreck. As our dive time elapses, we begin our ascent to the surface and I look behind attempting to spot my newfound friends. Although they are nowhere in sight, I know that I will see them again in the course of the next week...

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