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One Great Shot: Swimming with Seaplanes

Off the tropical islands of Palau, a photographer encountered the looming wreck of a Second World War seaplane known as Jake.

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by Grant Thomas

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diver swimming next to sunken airplane

In the heart of the western Pacific Ocean, surrounded by coral atolls and the lush tropical islands of Palau, lies a remarkable relic: the wreck of a seaplane from the Second World War. This plane is an Aichi E13A—a type of aircraft that Allied forces referred to by the code name “Jake.” Japanese troops relied on them for reconnaissance missions and operations against submarines.

I dove to the seaplane wreck site for the first time in May 2023—camera in hand. The visibility down there was poor, and getting clean color from the shot would have been difficult, so I chose to shoot in black and white.

Unfortunately, due to the passage of time and the lack of comprehensive records, the exact cause of this seaplane’s crash may never be known. Nevertheless, this plane has become an underwater time capsule: it rests peacefully beneath the waves and serves as a poignant reminder of the months-long battle between Japan and the United States over control of Palau during the war. Now inhabited by vibrant corals and marine life, the wreck attracts divers from around the world.

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Cite this Article:

Cite this Article: Grant Thomas “One Great Shot: Swimming with Seaplanes,” Hakai Magazine, Apr 18, 2024, accessed May 24th, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/one-great-shot-swimming-with-seaplanes/.


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