Who ever said getting there was half the fun?
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Through the colorful blur of downtown Natal, Brazil, members of
the expedition wait with incomplete forms outside the public notary.
||Mark Carroll's wilderness photography, multimedia, and diving experience made him our top choice to cover the Brazil shark mission. For more about Mark, click below...
Dispatch01: The Long, Long, Flight
@Sea correspondent, Mark Carroll
12:47pm March 9th, Nashville, TN -- Brazil awaits...and waits.
Repercussions from nasty weather in the Midwest have radiated south in the
form of delay and commotion, trapping my plane on the runway only 15 miles
into a 4000 mile trip. The word "ironic" comes to mind -- along with a few
others not fit to print. I wonder if the rest of the expedition crew will
meet the same fate?
11:23pm March 9th, over the Atlantic Ocean -- Done obsessing about
essential gear checked to the luggage monkeys, I turn my attention to the
in-flight tracking monitor. As the plane's icon inches south, past Cuba and
into the Caribbean, Brazil still seems like an abstract dream -- just a
slow-moving video game. For that matter, the fact that the expedition
itself will be underway in a few more days is even more difficult to
6:12am March 10th, approaching Sao Paulo, Brazil -- On the redeye from
Miami, sleep is futile. At least the sun rises faster flying east. The
early rays of light afford a first glimpse of the southern hemisphere.
Colored clouds melt into an undefined horizon. Over the land, a uniform
haze takes subtle cues from the clouds, a strange mirror of the sky. The
rainforest of the Amazon breaks through and seems like one massive tree with
branches of shimmering rivers and trees as leaves.
The view of the Amazon, that vast ecological cradle, is comforting.
Visions of the Amazon always bring my mind to its terminus, flowing into the
ocean. Perhaps the comfort comes from this seamless flow of water, river to
ocean and ocean to ocean, providing the continuity that travel otherwise
steals from our daily lives.
As glorious as this first glimpse of the southern hemisphere is, I am
equally excited to get to the airport restroom. I remember reading that the
Coriolis effect (the force of the earth's rotation on water) causes
southern toilets flush in a counter-clockwise swirl, unlike their northern
counterparts. I wanted to see. Unfortunately, my experiment was cut short
by a Portuguese voice crackling over the loudspeaker. " Voô 959 a Rio de
8:56pm March 11th, Natal, Brazil -- Rio was not the last of a 37-hour series
of delays and twisted re-routings, but the details have disappeared into a
spinning, sleepless fog. By chance, I woke up on the ship, docked at the
The rest of the scientific crew arrived by late afternoon, one member
short -- lost to a positive pregnancy test. Cutting it
close is intrinsic of all shark expeditions.
The remaining crew found that the stream of visas and paperwork designed to
get to Brazil did not end in Brazil. Instead, some unseen authority rolled
out the red tape in anticipation of our offshore adventure. So, in the
early evening, a parade of foreigners made its way from the port to Natal's
public notary, drawing a curious audience en route.
With these final forms complete, the R/V SEWARD JOHNSON leaves port tomorrow
morning and navigates to its first destination: the remote atoll, Fernando