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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems

October 15, 2019


Jillian Galloway, C Watch, Bowdoin College

Spend a Semester at Sea


Today, we departed Nuku’alofa under a hot afternoon sun and fair wind. The dock where the ship has spent the past few days moored is tantalizingly close to the outer islands and light green coral reefs, so to find myself traveling back onto greeny blue water is a long-awaited treat. It’s a tall order to report out all that I have experienced in the past week, so to sum it up I will simply say I am humbled.

October 14, 2019

Roots in Earth and Water

Katherine H. Webber, B Watch, The University of Virginia


Emerging from the doghouse, I was greeted by a cool morning breeze that brushed from the port side of the deck. Having just completed the 0600 boat check, I found that the sunrise had begun while I was below deck. Moving to the rail, I fell into conversation with my 0500-0630 dock watch buddy Zuri, when I noticed a spot of white foam in the distance.

October 14, 2019

A Sea of Islands

Emily B. Hite, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder


Under the moonlight of Friday, October 11, 2019, I eagerly trekked across Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) with a team from Sea Education Association (SEA) and NASA to complete one final mission: to measure temperatures around the perimeter of the volcano’s crater lake.

October 13, 2019

SEA / NASA Joint Collaboration of Exploration

SEA Semester

Since the formation of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in 2015, NASA has been keenly interested in this landmass as a rare opportunity to examine pathways of land formation and erosion in the time of 21st century remote sensing and scientific technology.

October 12, 2019

B Watch, Best Watch!

Adrianna Calamita, B Watch, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry


Ahoy Mateys! Hello all the way from Nuku’alofa, Tonga! After a long day of data organization and ship cleaning yesterday, we set sail at 0500 this morning towards the capital of Tonga and arrived around 1330. It was all hands on deck as we helped safely get Bobby C. Seamans into dock.

October 10, 2019

An Island of Opportunity

Natalia Chiapperi & Carlin Schildge, Ithaca & Colby Colleges


As we begin to wrap up our time here at HTHH, the data collection slowed down and we found some free time to enjoy the beauty and seclusion of the island. The day started late, with an 8:40 wake-up call, the latest we’ve been able to sleep-in in several weeks.

October 09, 2019

Students Conduct Hands-on Research on HTHH

Cameron Gallant & Katherine H. Webber, UNC Chapel Hill & University of Virginia


KATHERINE: Walking on deck, I welcomed our first sunny day at HTHH; however, upon reaching the island, I was greeted by hot black sand and an all-consuming heat that would last all day. Soon, as a part of the bird/vegetation team, Emily, Arielle, Cam, and I headed towards the southwest corner of the island, which boarders Hunga Ha’apai (which I think looks like a dragon lying down). Its red eye watched over us as we drew near.

October 08, 2019

“Another Planet:” Exploring Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai

Grace Callahan, Wellesley College


Hello from the newest land mass on earth! I’m Grace, and today was my first day on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai. (I spent yesterday on the ship, helping to ensure that our anchor wouldn’t slip and allow us to be blown out to sea.) After breakfast and a community meeting on the quarterdeck, I boarded our small rescue boat and was whisked ashore. T

October 07, 2019

Early Reports from HTHH

Frank Wenninger & Michael Tirone, George Washington University & Bowdoin College


As we labored down into the zodiac with our gear and rations, the ocean splashed violently around us. Those with hats cowered under the power of the southeasterly winds, and those in the front surrendered to the incessant spraying of the ocean.

October 07, 2019

Sailing to Mars via Earth’s Newest Landmass

Kerry Whittaker, Chief Scientist


On September 27th the SSV Robert C. Seamans departed Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa, bound for Earth’s newest landmass, located in the Kingdom of Tonga. The ship is a Sea Education Association student sailing and oceanographic vessel with 40 souls on board: student and professional crew, faculty, a visiting scientist from NASA, and an observer from the Tongan Ministry of the Environment.

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