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One Man Down, We Set Out for Salas y Gómez

Aboard the Chilean Navy vessel Comandante Toro, the expedition team sets out from Easter Island for the storied Salas y Gómez Island. Before departing, we lose legendary underwater cameraman Manu San Félix to–of all things–a broken toe!
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Manu resting his broken toe
By Enric Sala
Today is an exciting and sad day. Our underwater cameraman, Manu San Félix, broke a toe when 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of diving weights fell from a stack of gear. Still eager to make the trip, but the doctors have spoken. Given the possibility of a serious infection and the remoteness of our destination, Manu will not be able to journey to Salas y Gómez.
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Crew sorting out dive gear
This is an example of how things can go wrong on an expedition. Months of preparation, thousands of items to check on our to-do list, and everything can pause because of one little problem – like a toe. On this expedition we have other cameramen, but if someone forgot to carry pencils aboard, we could not perform underwater fish censuses; we couldn’t take photographs with some of our cameras if we forget $2 batteries from land.
That’s why we rely on redundancy–for efficiency and safety. We bring plenty of spares of virtually everything we’ll use during the expedition. When we pulled our gear out of its cases, we filled the deck of the ship with cameras, housings, cables, battery chargers, lights, strobes, plastic slates, pencils… It looks more like an electronics-or dive shop than a Navy vessel.
After bidding farewell to Manu, we departed for Salas y Gómez Island, full of adrenaline for what is ahead. We are scheduled to arrive tomorrow at 1 p.m. local time.
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Easter Island in the distance as the ship departs for Salas y Gómez
Photos by Ford Cochran

The science team will share frequent updates and media from the expedition, including photographs, videos and links to Google maps, here on the National Geographic News Watch blog. You can also follow the expedition on Google Earth by clicking on the blue ship icon located where the expedition begins near Easter Island, roughly 2,000 miles (3,300 km) northwest of Santiago, Chile. (Make sure the “Places” layer is turned on).

National Geographic and Oceana are members of Mission Blue
View all dispatches from the Salas y Gómez expedition here