SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
Snorkeling is school, right?
alongside in Neiafu, Vava’u
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Clear and sunny, winds force 2
Today was our first full day in Tonga! We spent the night tied up at the harbor in Neiafu after getting a chance to explore the town. Students stood hour long watches throughout the night, which was our first 'opportunity' to monitor the ship without the supervision of the staff. A.K.A the staff finally got a full night's sleep.
This morning we were able to sleep in! Our "late" 7 AM wakeups quickly transitioned into morning chores and breakfast. We then took a short trek to a government building nearby to learn about VEPA, the Vava'u Environmental Protection Association. Karen Stone, the Director, walked through VEPA's responsibilities, and told us that VEPA is the only NGO tackling environmental protection in the entirety of Tonga! Then we were allowed to hurl questions at our presenters about our Marine Environmental History projects.
In the afternoon, the folks from VEPA took us to an island in the harbor to help with coral reef monitoring. We snorkeled along a gorgeous coral reef, attempting to avoid kicking and stepping on them in the shallow water. We were looking for bleached coral, biodiversity, but mostly the Crown of Thorns sea star. This deadly star feeds on coral polyps and destroys reefs at insane rates. In the end, we only caught one sea star, but our friends at VEPA insisted that even one was helpful to the reef.
Our friends from VEPA, Karen, Sesi and Susanna, joined us on the Seamans for an amazing dinner made by Sabrina and Christian. We hope that we showed off our home well, after our deep clean for the customs officials. It is honestly crazy to think about the fact that we have been on the ship for less than two weeks; it feels so comfortable and normal already. I'm sure that I can speak for every student when I say that this ship has already become home.