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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Protecting the Phoenix Islands


September 27, 2018

Dr. Jan Witting Discusses SEA Research and the PIPA Trust

SEA Semester

SEA Professor of Oceanography Jan Witting recently completed his 5th research expedition to the remote Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) with SEA Semester class S-281, Protecting the Phoenix Islands. As a member of PIPA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, he will be contributing data collected on his voyages at a meeting of the PIPA Trust later this month.

Q: Jan, can you begin by briefly telling us more about both PIPA’s Scientific Advisory Committee and the PIPA Trust.

A: When the Phoenix Islands Protected Area was established in 2006, it was by an act of Kiribati parliament. In that legal framework, the PIPA Conservation Trust has the task of guiding and governing the operation and future development of PIPA, working with a broad array of international partners. The Trust oversees the funds that have been raised to help compensate Kiribati for lost fishing license revenue. Under the Trust, the PIPA implementation office (PIO) is a body whose job it is to implement the Trust’s decisions on the ground. The Science Advisory Committee (SAC) serves to inform both the PIO and the Trust to advise them of the current scientific understanding of a broad array of topics relevant to managing the ecosystems within PIPA. Members of the SAC come from many different disciplines and backgrounds, and some of us are involved in active research programs within PIPA.

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August 11, 2018

Five weeks in the middle of the Pacific

Annabel Spranger, C Watch, Denison University

Hey everyone, it’s Annabel again. We are currently on our way to American Samoa, preparing to anchor tomorrow and go through customs on the morning of the 13th. It has been a whirlwind of a trip, but luckily the past few days have been a good time to reflect on the 5 weeks that just passed us by.


August 09, 2018

An eye-opening experience

Christ Romero, B Watch, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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WOW!! I can’t believe we have sailed across the Pacific Ocean, crossed the equator, visited some atoll islands and are now on our way to our very last port stop in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Today is Friday and in just three days I’ll be on a plane flying back home.


August 08, 2018

Reflecting on our voyage to PIPA

Kerry Anne Rogers, B Watch, Muhlenberg College

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Hello outside world, it’s Kerry here. So many of my shipmates have already touched on the wondrous place that is PIPA with its stunning culture, biodiversity-not to mention the sweet snorkel spots. I believe I speak for everyone when I say PIPA will be dearly missed and when we return to our respective homes, we will recount our experiences here such frequency that you polliwogs may become tired of hearing how we swam with baby sharks or saw an awesome blue dragon slug.



August 07, 2018

Goodbye to the Phoenix Islands

Makaila Lyons, C Watch, McDaniel College Alum

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Today was a bittersweet day for all of us. Around 1245 we crossed the PIPA boundary and sailed into a new EEZ. Although most of us are excited to get home soon, as well as to be done with all of our assignments in the next few days, PIPA has treated us extraordinarily well over the past 3.5 weeks.


August 06, 2018

Another Day, Another Copepod

Ed Sweeney, 1st Assistant Scientist

Spend a Semester at Sea

Here we are, on the last leg of our long journey through PIPA! Woot! We’re almost there. Destination: American Samoa. We’ve conducted SO much research and data sampling to add to a fantastic data set in these remote parts of the world. Pretty sweet as.

Our students have learned the ship and are beginning to take on the responsibilities as junior watch leaders.


August 05, 2018

Learning Through Experience

Cody Hoff, A Watch, Willamette University

Spend a Semester at Sea

Hello Everyone,

It is I, Cody Hoff, here to bring you another blog post from this incredible journey that we have all been on. It is incredible how the time has gone by as of lately. We had an action packed few days at the island of Nikumaroro and it was everything that I imagined it would be and then some. I was excited to swim with the black-tip reef sharks but I was amazed at how close they would get to us.


August 04, 2018

Blog post number 29

Lee Fenstermacher, C Watch, Dickinson College

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Hello everyone, Lee here to bring you blog post number 29. The reality that we are nearing the end of our journey is palpable. Among the students there is a continuous stream of discussions on how to best stay in touch and the audible hope that we actually do. There’s the classic “if you’re ever in Boston” to more concrete plans being made for over winter breaks.


August 03, 2018

Reflections from the engine room

Chloé-Rose Colombero, A Watch, Harvard University

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While on board this ship, there have been endless seemingly everyday occurrences that are different and wild and wonderful, a new form of spectacular around every corner. One of these more hidden corners acts as the heart of our vessel, a hummingbird feverishly working, beating its wings in the great throat of the ship.


August 02, 2018

Approaching Nikumaroro with thoughts of Amelia Earhart

Mackenzie Meier, University of New Hampshire

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Amelia Earhart was from Atchison, Kansas; a hilly little town on the Missouri River, where they say she spent days looking out over the river and dreaming of flying. It’s also considered the most haunted town in Kansas but her final resting place - Nikumaroro—might be even more haunting.


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