photographs by Noah Pomeroy and Kara Osada-D'Avella
“I was sweating in my wetsuit!” “It was like diving in bathwater”… Such proclamations were common as everyone rinsed down gear after our first day of diving at Howland. Earlier that day, my fellow divers of the oceanography team, Oliver, Russell and Danny, popped up from their first dive and told me I’d be roasting in my 5mm wetsuit if I wore it on the next dive. Heeding their advice, I rolled backwards off our boat, “Steeltoe,” into the warmest water I’ve ever dived in. Learning to dive in frigid California waters while wrestling with half-inch-thick neoprene covering my body really made me appreciate being able to dive for an hour in swim trunks without so much as a chill. My SCUBA console gauge reported the water temperature at an exceptionally warm 86F (30C).
|A subsurface temperature recorder|
attached to the reef
Such warming episodes have occurred for at least the past 300 years but strong events can have serious implications for the health of coral reefs. Although we all enjoyed the comfort of diving in Howland’s exceptionally toasty water, Howland’s coral may have a different take on the elevated water temperature.
|Coral bleaching at Howland Island|