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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

August 04, 2018

Blog post number 29

Lee Fenstermacher, C Watch, Dickinson College


Nate Johnson with some concerned looking fish. Photo by Lee Fenstermacher.

Ship's Log

Current Position
4°40.6’ S by 174°33.3’ W

Ship’s heading and speed
173° at 0.4 knots

Current weather
32° C with fair weather clouds

Souls on board

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. I can't speak for my shipmates, but I know I'd certainly love to see everyone again. To be honest, I'm surprised by how much I know I'm going to miss them all. After spending a summer seeing each other nearly 24/7 it's hard to imagine parting ways. When we're not discussing plans to stay in touch we're discussing our many projects we have to finish in the next few days. Call it a labor of love; we all have a significant amount of work ahead of us. But, at least for me, the knowledge that the more work I put into my project the more beneficial it will be for the Republic of Kiribati provides me motivation enough.

As for our daily activities, the snorkeling is still amazing and Nikumaroro mimics the stereotypical tropical island paradise so much it's hard to believe it actually exists. But that has all been discussed before, so I thought I might tell you all a little bit about what I've learned. As a lover of policy, I think perhaps the most important thing I've learned from this trip is how difficult it is to gather scientific data to inform marine policy. Don't get me wrong, I never thought it was easy. But the first recommendation every policy brief gives is usually for more data. Little did I know data collection requires so many more resources and so much more time and grit than I could have imagined. During this voyage I've been fortunate enough to be a part of the policy/science tradeoff and it has made me think far more critically about the data I ask for.

Through my time onboard, I've learned that sticker price doesn't present a complete picture of the cost of collecting scientific data, especially on the ocean. The fact that your workspace is moving makes analyzing samples all the more difficult. One piece of equipment, the carousel, takes about 30 minutes to prepare, 45 minutes in the water to collect samples for: pH, chlorophyll a, nutrients, fluoresce, salinity, etc. Not to mention the seemingly endless hours it takes to process these samples. In addition, after doing hours of maneuvering equipment for net towing I've become acquainted with the glorious tedium of zooplankton 100 counts. The crew has been processing plankton for about 7 hours out of the day and processing will continue to occur for months, and months, after the conclusion of our voyage. In regards to currents, while the data can be more passively collected, each graphical representation of the data collected takes about 20 minutes to make (for me anyways) in order to be analyzed. And then again, the analysis of the data collected never seems to cease, as each year the new data collected is compared with the old. I guess before this trip I always thought scientific data was relatively easy and quick to collect when you had enough resources. I'm so glad I've had the chance to
learn how wrong that assumption was.

Best fishes,
Lee Fenstermacher, C Watch, Dickinson College

Yay shout outs! Hello Mom and Dad. I am still wonderful, love and miss you both and I hope you both are well. Abby: Hi hi hi I love and miss you I hope your summer classes are finishing up well and I can't wait to talk soon! I'm spending my days among the fishes so you know I'm doing amazing. Colby: Hello I love and miss you too and I hope your internship is finishing up well. I can't wait for you to tell me all about it! Be prepared to be shown an absurd amount of pictures. I can't wait to see you! Again, much love to anyone reading this post on my behalf. This has been the most incredible experience of my life and I'm excited to share it with you all.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s281  pipa  science • (0) Comments


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