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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reader e-mails are answered

 •  Scientist has a fish tale, with a twist

Hi Mr. Jan,

I wrote to you when you were on the Hokule'a and I was in preschool. Now I am in the first grade and I go to 'Aina Haina Elementary School. Do you do experiments at night? Do you see eels and sharks? Is it scary?

Alana Ako, 7, 'Aina Haina Elementary School

It's good to hear from you again, Alana. So far, the marine biology scientists on board are working at night, but mainly in the ship's two laboratories, putting their samples in test tubes and plastic bags and recording information in their computers.

There have been no night dives.

So far, I've been snorkeling above the reef and have not seen any eels.

But plenty of sharks are always around. It's not too scary, but you need to remember to always be alert and keep your eyes open. One diver was surprised when he wasn't paying attention. He turned his head and found a big Galapagos shark watching him, just a couple of feet from his head!

After a while, the shark swam away.

Q. What is the prevalence of yellow tangs? They are often captured in the main islands, but I really enjoyed seeing so many at Midway. Also, have you seen many ulua? Have a great and safe time.

Mike Wilson

A. I saw plenty of yellow tangs both at Nihoa and in our first dive on the outer reef at French Frigate Shoals. They seem to me to be quite a bit more abundant here than in the main Hawaiian Islands. Ulua are everywhere, and they're quite aggressive. I was swimming down our anchor line inside the lagoon and had one circling me. It was a little disconcerting.