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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

February 08, 2014

S251 Weblog 08 February 2014

Brianna Coughlin, A watch, Saint Michael’s College

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Above: (L-R) Rachel, Jerusha, Julia, Aleja, Melissa, Jimmy, Lauren and I celebrating the pink beaches at the Southern pass of Fakarava. —Special thanks to Aleja for the photo. Below, right: An underwater image of some of the coral reefs Fakarava has to offer.

Ship's Log

Current Position
16° 03.4’’S x 146° 37.5’’W
Course and Speed
Anchored at Fakarava
Sail Plan
Remain anchored until 09 Feb
Weather
Mostly sunny with rain in the afternoon

Snorkeling the Day Away
Our last full day on Fakarava was spent boating to the Southern pass and snorkeling among beautiful coral reefs. We began the day at 0800 with three local guides picking us up at Robert C. Seamans in their motorboats. Our ship is anchored near the northern pass and our goal for the day was to reach the southern pass—30 nautical miles away. Fakarava is essentially a giant rectangle with two passes and a calm lagoon in the middle. It’s difficult to grasp the scale of the atoll because when you’re standing on land facing the lagoon area you aren’t able to see the other side of the atoll. It’s also strange to be on the atoll because it’s so thin in terms of width of the land, —it’s about a five minute walk to the ocean side of the atoll and sometimes you can see both the ocean and lagoon at the same time.

We spent most of the morning being driven around by our gracious local guides; occasionally stopping to see coral reefs or old Maori ruins. The atoll became quickly isolated as we left Rotoava, transforming from a tourist sector to a dense forest of palm trees and local vegetation. The coral reefs are stunning. They show up, above water, as large brownish-blue patches in the bright turquoise waters, but below the surface, with the aid of snorkel gear, they transform in color and shape. You see the corals’ varied shades of blue and green; you see colorful tropical fish darting in front of you; fellow divers wave and smirk in awe. The lagoon truly comes alive.

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Around 1230 we stopped at little village named Tetamanu with a population consisting of three families. Our guides quickly got to work on land with fish we had caught earlier in the day. And just for clarification, we didn’’t “catch” the fish in the traditional sense (with a fishing pole and patience). We caught the fish in a trap. The local fishermen use a weir—a specially designed heart shaped fence is placed in the water where fish can swim in, but not out. It was incredible to watch the fishermen throw a net into the weir and easily pull out 20-30 fish. These fish we ended up eating at an impromptu barbeque at the village. The guides cleaned and gutted the fish with ease; taking a few seconds to kill the fish and another couple minutes to clean the fish for cooking. They ‘recycled’ the fish innards by throwing them to the local shark population, with whom we later snorkeled. I will note that everyone’s toes, fingers and appendages are all intact. The sharks were small reef sharks that swam in shallow water. We also helped make coconut bread, which you cook by putting the dough between two leaves and then baking them on an open fire.

All in all it was an incredible day. We saw pink sand motus that seemed to be pulled directly from a postcard, swam with small reef sharks and ate a delicious local meal prepared by some of Fakarava’s own residents. Tomorrow we set sail for Nuka Hiva and more adventures.

- Brianna

Sending my love to Mom, Dad, Arielle, Ryan and Eric. Hope all is well at home!

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