Fish in the Plane Wreck

By Spencer. We snorkeled out to the shallow crash site just a hundred yards from shore and began exploring. Beadle and I had weights and were able to dive down and under the wings without SCUBA (A rarity for wrecks) and I even did a swim thru the fuselage! The sediment in the water gave the wreck that eerie feeling that all wrecks have; however, as the sun shone through the clouds, the colors of the algae came to life. The engines were hairy with feathers of barnacles protruding from all over. Large clams had fixed themselves to the wreck, their lips shimmering beautiful greens, yellows, and blues.

One surprise: we dove down and peaked inside the wings, suddenly discovering hundreds of colorful tropical fish, which contrasted sharply with the grey metal carcass of their home (see photo at bottom). Inside the plane’s cockpit, springs jutted out from the frames of seats long decomposed. The port wing was the deepest of the wreck sitting in about 25’ of water; and under it large stripped yellow fish chased small red, white and blue fish back and forth. They occasionally misjudged their speed and hit the silty bottom causing a plume of dust to rise from the impact.

The placid nature of the lagoon has preserved the wreck very well and we were ecstatic when we swam back to shore. Capitan even jumped in the air squealing with delight when we got back to the truck. This was a superb and unusual way to break up the passage to Fatu Hiva.