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.
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
December 12, 2018
Taking over the Seamans
37°30.01’S x 177°27.39
Course & Speed
220°, 0.5 knots
Motor-sailing under the single reefed mains’l, the main and fore stays’ls, and the jib.
Winds from NW with Beaufort force 3, overcast skies, air temperature around 22°C, seas with a height of 1 foot.
These past couple of days have brought us fair weather, which is a pleasant change from the wild weather that we’ve seen for most of the rest of our trip. Although we welcome the calm and sunny days, I think a lot of us are hoping for some wind. We have been mostly motor-sailing since we left Napier and so watches have been relatively uneventful. However, our professors made sure that we weren’t kept idle for too long. Today during our regular afternoon class, we were given a new task, titled “Fire in water, smoke in air.” This particular caption was inspired by two different phenomena that we have seen in the past twenty-four hours. The “fire in water” refers to some really cool creatures that inhabit these waters, called pyrosomes.
Pyrosomes are large colonies of tunicates that can be seen in the water at night by their bioluminescence. We actually ended up catching one of these colonies in our nighttime meter net tow, and it was found to weigh about thirty pounds! Our chief scientist, Kerry, also shared an article with us about a group of divers that had seen a six-meter-long pyrosome in these same waters just about a month ago. The “smoke in air” from the title refers to the fact that we are currently sailing towards White Island. This island is an active volcano that is continuously emitting steam, which is a really cool thing to see.
This project gives the students a chance to take both navigation and science completely into our own hands for a time span of fifteen hours. During our class period, we were given the task to plan out our cruise track and our science deployments for the three different watches happening between 1600 and 0700. The goal of this project is to understand what impacts volcanic activity (from White Island and the surrounding benthic activity) might have on the ocean. As such, we needed to determine which scientific data we would want to collect, and where. In terms of understanding how the ocean’s physical factors are impacted by volcanic activity, we decided that we wanted to get pH, alkalinity, and chlorophyll data. We were then also interested to see how these physical factors would affect biological activity and decided that we would want to get zooplankton biovolume and hundred counts. In order to get this data, we needed to plan different deployments, like the carousel CTD and the neuston net, as well as the data analysis portion. Furthermore, we needed to plan our cruise track, not only around these deployments, but also we needed to ensure that we stayed on our general cruise track and that we wouldn’t drift within three nautical miles of White Island.
Now I know that that was a lot of information with a lot of science terms scattered about, but I think that the main takeaway is that we were able to plan and coordinate an entire fifteen hours of navigation and science. A group of students who hadn’t sailed a tall ship or done science deployments at sea up until about five weeks ago, were given the opportunity to use all of the knowledge and skills that they have gained, and put it into one project. I am proud of us. Now all we have to do is pull it off, and I have faith that each and every one of us is more than capable of doing so, especially when we work together.
- Elena Beckhaus, B Watch, University of San Diego
P.S. Hello again family, I miss you and love you all so much. I’m very much looking forward to seeing you guys in just a few days. Have a safe flight home Sarah, see ya soon! And hello friends, can’t wait to see you all very soon! Have a good trip home Makayla, super excited to not be long distance roomies anymore.