Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Diving Jacques Cousteau style!
Dr. Sanjay Gupta dives near the Carteret Islands to see why they are sinking.
CARTERET ISLANDS -- This week I did something that I will probably never get to do again. In fact, the government of Buka, Papua New Guinea, could not think of anyone who had ever done it before. I went scuba diving on the coral reefs beneath the Carteret Islands. The reason that no one had likely ever done it before is because the islands are extremely remote, even by Papua New Guinea standards. The reason I will never get to do it again is because the islands are sinking and will soon disappear altogether.

To make it happen, we had to get our dive gear from the town of Port Moresby, which is nearly 700 miles away. There were no dive shops that we could find any closer. Still, we did it because it is important to telling the story of the disappearing Carteret Islands. We really wanted to be able to describe what was happening from three points of view. First, from the air where, with the help of a helicopter, we captured some of the very first aerial shots of Carteret. It wasn't an easy trip, given that for most of the journey there was simply no land around and no possibility of an emergency landing. Needless to say, we were a little nervous until the chopper touched down safely. The second dimension was being able to speak firsthand to the people of the Carteret Islands and understand what they had seen and why they believed their land was being swallowed by the sea. Finally, as the destruction and bleaching of coral is such a large component of the story, we needed to dive deep to the ocean floor to see for ourselves.

Of course, as is often the case, especially in remote locations, things didn't go exactly as planned. First off, I am an advanced diver and have been diving for almost 20 years. Neil Hallsworth, our photographer, has been certified since 1993, and Heather O'Neill, the producer for this shoot, has been diving for more than a year now. When we surveyed the equipment, we realized that while there were three sets of fins, there were only two tanks and only one BCD (buoyancy control device). Given that we were in the middle of nowhere and had no other options, we decided to improvise. Heather decided to snorkel near the surface and, most importantly, keep shark watch. Given that these particular reefs had never had divers, we weren't quite sure what to expect as far as wildlife goes. Neil and I traded off the BCD and at times literally carried an air tank under our arm while diving at 60 feet below the surface - Jacques Cousteau style! It allowed Neil to film never before obtained pictures of the Carteret reefs, which we will show you in CNN's upcoming documentary Planet in Peril. It allowed me to see firsthand what happened to the island of Carteret from the bottom up.

For me, this was one of the most adventurous shoots I have done in the last six years. So, what about some of your best adventure stories?

-- By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 1:08 PM ET
Hi Dr. Gupta,
I think I'll leave the adventures to the adventurous. I did make it through LA at rush hour unscathed. Does that count? Keep up your good work.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 1:42 PM ET
Great, Sanjay. Last thing I want to hear is from a bunch of foolish "No Fear" idiots sharing how they stupidly put themselves in harm's way and got hurt!!! Duhhh!!!
Posted By Tresha, SFC USA, Ft. Benning, GA : 1:44 PM ET
Dr Gupta,

Is there anything you can't do?!, I admire your dedication to healthcare , the enviorment , the tragic situation in Africa . You take on the issues that plague our world and need attention now, your a true advocate of the social issues that are more and more so important and critical, I think your right up there with Anderson , and Jeff Corwin" you guys are a class act" I look forward to the " PLanet in Peril" documentary, thanks for all you do!

Posted By Maritza San Jose. Ca : 1:45 PM ET
Sinking Islands! be careful Dr. Gupta, Michael Moore might land there and finish the sinking with you underneath and then who will tell us who is fit or fat?

Posted By Betty Ann, Christville,TX : 2:26 PM ET
Sanjay, I was on a boat that sank in a hurricane. We got washed up onto the marsh in the bayou and waited for help. That's about the best true story that I can come up with for you. I certainly don't lead a life as exciting as yours! I'm looking forward to seeing your report on the Carteret Islands and wondering what you found out from your dive. You sure have a lot of courage!
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 2:30 PM ET
Dr. Gupta!
It is like "going where no man has gone before," literally. What a glorious experience to bring to "Planet in Peril."

It is also nice to know that places still exist on our planet where cell phones, traffic jams, and speed boats have not decimated the landscape.

What exactly is the time frame for the sinking of the Carteret Islands? Also, why is the bleaching of the coral such a large component to the story? I guess I will have to watch the series to find out.

I really don't have a good adventure story unless you count my car sliding down a mountain side in Montana immediately after getting out of the driver's side. I had pulled over to get a great shot of the Continental Divide. It only took a couple of miles of hiking and a weak cell phone connection to get back to civilization. The car, well, a toe truck helped and as well as an understanding insurance agent.

Stay safe.
Posted By Liz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin : 2:32 PM ET
Dr Gupta this segment sounds like a real winner. The undersea world is something the average person rarely sees, but because of CNN we will be able to witness it. And the fact that everyone is covering all the angles of this story is fantastic.

My best adventure nothing much just a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of MI that involved bats, native wildlife and the frigid water of Lake Superior.
Posted By Grace Detroir MI : 2:39 PM ET
Dr. Gupta:

Does traveling 8,000 miles in 10 weeks in a mini-van with two children constitute an adventure?

Take a look at boy on the front cover of Time magazine this week. This pretty much summarizes our summer adventure.

Well I guess everyday is an adventure. Climb aboard!

P.S. Are the viewers going to see Neil in a wet suit anytime soon? LOL!
Posted By Renee Bradenton, FL : 3:00 PM ET
Hi Dr. Gupta,
What a cool dive! I can't wait to see the documentary.
My last great adventure was climbing an 11,000 ft. mountain in Mexico in search of the mysterious migrating Monarch butterfly which migrates all the way from Canada.
I made it to the top and there were 10 MILLION butterflies!! Heavenly!
Then, I fell and broke my arm and dislocated my shoulder. I was taken to a primitive village hospital which was not so modern or clean a then to O.R. for surgery.
How's that? I am all about adventure. Bring it on!
Thanks Dr. Sanjay!
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 3:35 PM ET
I really can't wait to see PIP! You have all worked very hard on this project. These underwater pictures should be spectacular. I have been trying to live outside of my comfort zone this year. I was in Arizona this past May and climbed up a small rock formation, took a wild jeep ride and climbed down a mountain to a ledge to view Indian writings etched on the side of the mountain. It was all pretty cool. In July I fished, tubed , rode an ATV for the first time and saw animals I had never seen before except in zoos. I'm off on a snorkeling trip tomorrow. I'm not really secure with water, so I'll see how it goes. I hope it is as good as yours seemed to be! Have a great week and a safe trip!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:15 PM ET
Great adventures? Not unless you count cowering in a closet as a tornado goes by uprooting trees and dumping them on your house or chasing roosters with a 5 year old a net - no roosters were caught by the 5 year old; just me.

How do you find time to do all the things you do? You guys are amazing.

I do have a question - is the coral bleaching there more a result of last few El Nino's or does the scientific community think it is global warming or a combination of the two? I know that it deprives the ocean life of food at the very least.

One last adventure - I got chased by a bear in the Smoky Mountains who wanted my mom's apple pie - I threw it to him and ran!!!
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 9:29 PM ET
Dr. Gupta,

WOW! What a great dive! I admire your work and can't wait until the PIP documentary.
My last big adventure was less than a year ago when I jumped out of an airplane at 15,000 feet. It was truly awesome! If you haven't done it, you should!!
Stay safe.
Posted By Haley Auburn, AL : 11:08 PM ET
Hi Dr Gupta,

The Planet is in peril, and more sso the low lying areas near the sea or islands such as these, but even inland the stories you see and hear about make you weep. i went to Upper Assam, and while there got a chance to see the Brahmaputra cutting into it's banks, and people say whole villages have been swallowed up this, and islands where people live are disappearing RAPIDLY, is there a solution, nobody seems to care nobody.

Priyanka, nagpur India
Posted By Priyanka : 5:41 AM ET
one big adventure you might chronicle: if humans would simply harness the surface and subsurface energy potentials of the oceans, we could totally solve our energy problems.. just as people don't know the oceans, we also can't fathom the immense energy of the tides, harnessing them is absolutely harnessing the moon, which creates the tides. We have ten full oceans of water, need to cleanse just a bit of salt out to make the sahara desert a green jungle paradise. Ten square miles of undersea tidal generators would power the whole state of Oregon, according to studies, 24/7, since the oceans are like winds, always blowing, but much greater force and harnessability. Hydrogen farming could be done on 1% of the ocean surface, and would supply the whole world with fuel. there are many many other options.. but the oceans are full of promise.. thanks for highlighting it..
Posted By Anonymous : 6:16 PM ET
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