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  Field Notes From
Dawn in the Deep



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On Assignment
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From Photographer

Emory Kristof



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From Author

Richard A. Lutz



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Emory Kristof


 

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Dawn in the Deep

Field Notes From Photographer
Emory Kristof
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    I loved the diving and shooting on the ocean floor. It was a thrill to have a submersible turned over to me for several hours to explore the vents and the creatures living around them. I chased a long snakelike fish for half an hour. It's never been identified. This is the sixth and final sea vents story I'll be involved in. Over the years advances in technology have resulted in better photos. I went back to some of the old ground and could make better pictures than I could in the past. As a photographer, that's exciting.



    Making this IMAX movie was a multiyear slog involving a lot of people. Alex Low, whose brother Stephen was the filmmaker, was one of the unsung heroes of the entire project. He wrote all the grant proposals and prepared all the visual material used in selling the film to such institutions as the National Science Foundation and Rutgers University. He had done his job well and was going to go to sea with Alvin and see the fruits of his labors.
    The night before we sailed, I took Alex to the wonderful restaurant in the small hotel where I stayed in the Azores. I recommended the calamari, the same thing I had eaten the night before. It was a lovely meal, and we retired early on the Atlantis in anticipation of sailing the next day.
    That night poor Alex came down with one of the worst cases of food poisoning I have ever seen. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he was put on intravenous fluids. Still, the ship had to sail, so Alex was left behind. I felt terrible that our voyage was starting out on this sad note, particularly because somehow I was responsible.



    Since 1976, when marine geologist Peter Rona spotted thousands of tiny hexagons around hydrothermal vents, no one has been able to come up with the animal that made the geometric holes. I made pictures of the holes. The overall shape is a hexagon, and there are little hexagons within a larger hexagon. There always seems to be 320 or 321 holes in these things. They look like they've been stamped out with a pair of sneakers, so a very strange animal makes this shape.
    I thought I was on the verge of a discovery when I saw a little cut bug kind of animal moving across the top of the holes. It was the right size to fit in the holes and the only creature ever seen around them. It was pretty small, so I followed it with my macro lens. But nobody wants to believe that this little animal had anything to do with making the holes. It's still a mystery, but I made the only photo with an animal near the fossil.





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