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
November 17, 2018
Conservation and Management Human Use Census #1
The S-283 Conservation and Management class completes a Human Use Census at each port that the ship visits. The goal of this is to catalogue the way humans are interacting with and controlling the use of the harbors we visit. With enough data over time, we will be able to track the changes in the use of each harbor, both visually and quantitatively. The Human Use Census tracks specific characteristics and data points in each port, and the same parameters and data fields are used every time. The date, location, and weather conditions are noted, and a panoramic picture of the harbor is taken. The primary data concerns types of vessels in the harbor, types of structures surrounding the harbor, and types of individual human activities around and in the harbor. If something of note appears that does not fit within the parameters, it is noted so that it can be considered in future analysis.
We surveyed Waitemata Harbour and Freemans Bay in Auckland from Princes Wharf. We found that the harbor was most frequently used for industrial and commercial purposes. We saw oil tankers, container ships, and ferries. Across the harbor we regularly saw sailboats, presumably recreational sailboats. Additionally, the NZ Maritime Museum, which we were docked next to, took out sailing ships with patrons regularly. We did not really see a lot of individual use of the water. There were some people walking along the harbor, but we didn’t see any small individual watercraft. In the three days we were there, we didn’t see any kayaks or paddleboards. The harbor is fairly heavily trafficked and the day after we took this survey we saw a cruise ship dock right next to us at the end of our wharf. There are plans to expand Queen’s Wharf which is a very touristy section of Auckland next to Prince’s wharf father into the harbor in the future. With this knowledge we were able to assess the harbor as a link to the sea which was continuing to expand. It would be interesting to see how these plans account for sea level rise in the Auckland region and if this impedes development in the future.
The amount of ferry traffic on a Tuesday morning was interesting. We saw a different brand of ferry pass by about every minute. There were at least six different brands. This is likely tied to the tourism industry, however on one of the ferries we could see a few people with bicycles in the stern of the boat. This made us think that they were commuters going to or from work. We wondered how the percentage of commuter demand influences the frequency of ferry traffic. When looking out at the harbor, there was a visual divide between commercial traffic on the near shore side of the harbor, and a residential area on the far shore of the harbor. It would be interesting to know if the geographical distance between the two shores impacts Auckland residents’ use of the harbor. Public transit is often seen as a form of sustainable urban use, but how does boat traffic tie into this idea?
To help understand this connection between Auckland and the islands it would be interesting to look back at human use of the islands across the Waitemata Bay from the urban center in which the ferries were traveling. When did passenger travel begin to bring people to these islands for recreation and tourism? Or when did it transition? In what ways did the Maori use the harbor as a form of transport prior to European arrival (1774, James Cook expedition)? We also did not see any fishing vessels. It would be interesting to see if fishing vessels go out earlier in the day and when they return or if they stay out for long periods of time.We are looking forward to comparing the human uses of Auckland to the historic harbor of Russell, Bay of Islands, in the coming days!
- Lindsay Fox, A Watch, Sewanee: The University of the South, Sal Cosmedy, A Watch, Mount Holyoke College, Mia Sigler, A Watch, Mount Holyoke College