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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

May 30, 2018

Oceanographer’s Dream

Tiffany Croucher, B Watch, Eckerd College


Above: Collecting microplastics using the Tiff Tow at The Aquarium in Rangiroa; Below: Petri dish of microplastics and plankton from the first Tiff Tow

Ship's Log

Current Position
14°16.923’S, 147°55.543’W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
335° PSC @ 7 knots

Sail Plan
Sailing from Rangiroa, French Polynesia to Caroline (Karoraina) Island, Kiribati

Winds from the ENE, 27.5° C, partly cloudy with Cumulus cloud coverage, large swells

Souls on board

Most oceanographers' biggest dream is to have something named after them. That dream came true for me and just in time for my 22nd birthday. On this beautiful voyage from Tahiti to Hawaii, I am looking at concentrations of microplastics near corals reefs and comparing them to concentrations found in the open ocean. Maneuvering a phyto net around reefs can be quite the challenge, therefore we have created the Tiff Tow. It takes extreme endurance to swim for fifteen minutes at a minimum speed in order to calculate the water flow through the net.

It is extremely exciting to be given the opportunity to conduct this research in such beautiful, remote locations. For miles around the ship, there are endless miles of lagoon ringed by and the tiniest of islands. It is exciting doing coral research in a place like this because the locals rely heavily on the reef for food and economic purposes. My first tow was taken on a reef located in the biggest lagoon in the world, Rangiroa.  After
I brought my sample back to the boat, I sat under a microscope until midnight searching for tiny microplastics. I am in my element here, especially when I have time to be in the lab or swimming on the reefs. 

This trip has been beyond life changing for me so far and we are only a week in. Not only is my research project beyond opportunistic, but learning to sail a large vessel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is simply an experience I cannot put into words. I love being surrounded by endless miles of beautiful blue oceans that go down thousands of meters deep. There is so much life in the oceans, and being on this boat experiencing every second of each day really puts it into perspective. My favorite times of the day are the brief moments when the sun sets and the moon rises, or vice versa. For a moment, as I stand on the bow, I watch as the moon says goodnight and the sun says hello. To be able to witness that special conversation and trade-off between the two is beyond special to me. I have always felt deeply connected to the sea. However, through this experience, I find myself not only more bonded to the sea, but also to the entire earth and stars above.

- Tiffany Croucher, B Watch, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida

P.S. I spent my birthday on a ship, surrounded by a beautiful coral atoll, in a lab looking under a microscope. It doesn't get much better than that.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Pacific Reef Expedition, • Topics: s280  polynesia.  coral reefs  study abroad • (3) Comments
Previous entry: Anchored at Rangiroa    Next entry: The learning never ends


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 Mom (Kelli) on May 31, 2018

I sent birthday wishes earlier Tiff, but I can’t help but just be astounded by the rich blessings, opportunities and experiences you are so privileged to be a part of! Your desire to create change and impact the world is an inspiration to all, and to see you fulfilling your destiny and be completely one with the sea fills me with great joy!  Happy happy birthday sweet girl! I love ya bunches. Mom

#2. Posted by Joyce Poppe on May 31, 2018

Hope you’re not getting this message for the 3rd time. Keeps telling me there is an error. Amazing pictures and blog. 

#3. Posted by Joyce Poppe on June 01, 2018

Good morning. Hope you have a great day today. Love reading the blogs and seeing your smiling face. Really hot here.  Love you always.



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