A team of scuba-diving researchers this week will begin the first large-scale mapping project of Blacktip Island’s bottom, team organizers said.
“Mapping Blacktip’s underside’s been a goal for a while, but there were always more pressing things to look at,” Blacktip’s Bottom team leader Sally Port said. “But now, with all the new construction on the east side of the island adding so much weight over there, we need to make sure the island’s still balanced and not in danger of tipping over.
“We’ll also be checking on the chains holding the island in place, and replacing them if necessary,” Port said. “With us spending so much time down there, it was a no-brainer to incorporate our long-planned mapping project. It’s the ultimate overhead environment, no ‘buts’ about it, and will be funded by the Tiperon Islands’ National Overhead Aquatics Agency.”
Team members noted the challenges the project will face.
“These are long, deep dives,” Harry Bottoms said. “The lower edge is about 145 feet. Thanks to NOAA’s support, we’ll be using rebreathers and underwater scooters to cover as much topography as possible. It’s a big, fat mystery what’s down there, but our hypothesis is there’s a central mountain range that acts as a keel to keep the island upright. But we need to methodically map things and not give it the bum’s rush.
“There’s multiple theories about some of the island’s cracks leading directly to the underside, so we’ll have teams above ground sniffing those out,” Bottoms said. “We’re also excited about possibly finding new species clinging to the island’s nether regions.”
Some local residents are concerned about the potential consequences of the expedition.
“Down underneath the island, that’s where the mersquatch lives,” handyman Antonio Fletcher said. “Divers butt in dwn there, you-know-what’ll hit the fan. We won’t be able to sleep at night, wondering when he’ll come after us. And this talk of replacing chains, well, what happens if something goes wrong? We’d drift off, and prevailing winds’d drift us right onto Tiperon. Or Honduras.”
Dive charter operators, however were eager to see the team’s findings.
“With luck, they’ll be able to chart out some new dive sites for us to take our guests,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “Folks’re always clamoring for something different to look at. We got a mini submarine on order, too, so we can take small groups down for longer looks.