Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
March 15, 2016
A Long, Long Time Ago
60 miles east of nearest land
Pea soup fog, force 1, seas calm.
Sense-of-place is a concept frequently discussed aboard the Robert C. Seamans, and perspectives are often framed by individuals' backgrounds and experiences. As a geologist, I believe that discussions of place ought to open along the lines of:
A long, long time ago.
About 80 million years before present, seafloor spreading began in the southwest Pacific. The body of water connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans (known as the Thethys Sea) dispersed, and shifting tectonic plates constructed the Western Pacific. This dynamic system resulted in where we are today: sailing along the modern configuration of New Zealand and over a submerged continental fragment known as the Chatham Rise. Our instruments have begun to detect the confluence of water masses, our nets and chemical analyses show changing levels of biologic productivity, and we watch the mercury drop. Similarly, the students command new flows on watch, their productivity levels change as papers become due, and the heat has been turned-on.
And, just as tectonic plates have continued to change ocean basins, the students' continued influence on our ship have changed what it means to be a member of the crew. The originally timid have become confident leaders. Small individual actions and their impact on the entire community are readily acknowledged. The souls on board are a more cohesive unit than ever before. Even before we have reached the end, the ship has made us need it, just as much as it needs us.