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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

July 27, 2015

Mauri From the Island of Orona!

Emily Callan, University of South Carolina

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Ship's Log

Anchored at Orona, Kiribati

Calm BF 1

Souls on Board

We arrived in Orona last night during the evening watch (1900 - 2300). Unfortunately, since it was pitch black out, save for the light of the stars, we could not see the island very well. So by dawn, when the sun finally began to peak over the horizon, everyone on dawn watch was in awe of the beauty of the island. From a distance, we could see an atoll full of trees and uninhabited by people since the early 2000s. After an all hands meeting after breakfast, it was decided that those who were on the dawn watch were allowed to be part of the first group to go ashore, which meant me! I was very excited to go ashore and explore the island and see what I could find. Getting to island was a little different experience as we had to wade in the last 50' from the boat to reach the shore. The reef surrounding the island made it impossible for our two little motor boats to get all the way to the beach. I was glad to be on land once again.

As I walked to find the perfect beach spot along the lagoon with my fellow shipmates, I saw my signs of human impact, though there had been no humans for at least a decade. Water bottles and bits of broken up plastic and glass had washed up on the shore. A Fiji water bottle laid in the path of a dried up ravine. Despite haphazard litter lying about, the island was extremely beautiful.

Once we found our beach spot, we hopped in the water to snorkel and saw many fish that looked at us with a curiosity as though they had never seen a human before. We had to be careful where we stepped though, as giant clams were scattered about the seabed and would chop on our toes.  As we waded in the shallow waters, little baby reef sharks would swim until they saw an unknown thing towering above them and quickly skirted away. Even lying on shore we were surrounded by life. Strawberry hermit crabs the size of a small fist kept clambering over us and trying to find hiding spots in backpacks.

Although, we got a few cuts, scrapes, and sunburn during our excursion, we would've done it all again. I'm so glad that I have had this opportunity to see such a spectacular island that very few have laid eyes on or even walked upon.

I can't wait to explore more of the marine life around the island tomorrow around the island as we go snorkeling.

From the Robert C. Seamans,

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s261  port stops  phoenix islands • (1) Comments


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Dennis Callan on August 18, 2015

It is sad that one can find litter in the ocean and on these islands.  I would guess that the problem is much worse since Thor Heyerdahl sailed from Chile to the islands on the raft Kon-Tiki back in 1952.  We all need to do our part in recycling this kind of trash.

I enjoy reading about your voyage!  Be safe!



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