SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
August 09, 2018
An eye-opening experience
11° 55.509’ S x 170° 51.160’ W
Sailing at 170°, Heading to Pago Pago, American Samoa
Clear Skies 29° C, Winds at NE F3. Seas NE
WOW!! I can’t believe we have sailed across the Pacific Ocean, crossed the equator, visited some atoll islands and are now on our way to our very last port stop in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Today is Friday and in just three days I’ll be on a plane flying back home.
I can’t help but look back at the start of this journey. Living on a sailing vessel is quite the adventure, from having to wake up at different times of the day, to adjusting to being on watch throughout the night time, and setting and taking down sails. This has been a challenging but also humbling experience for all of us. We have visited many islands, gotten to indulge in an amazing culture shared by the people of Kanton, to swimming in beautiful coral reefs with sharks and all sorts of organism in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
This journey has made me appreciate this planet we call home more than ever before, where I’ve never felt alone because of all the life that is constantly surrounding us in every which way possible. Snorkeling around the atolls you can find school of fishes traversing the waters, to fluorescent clams opening and closing at the sight of any movement. We as humans tend to focus on the large scales things our naked eyes can see. Having completed my last deployment of this program yesterday, I can’t seem to stop thinking about the amazing hard work we’ve all done these past couple of weeks. Deploying many hydrocast, neuston nets, and tucker trawls to collect water samples and biomasses from all depths of the water column has taught me to not forget about the small things in life. I’m sure you guys have heard of the doing 100 count in the previous blogs, but to me it’s been an eye-opening experience. You come across an array of organism that can’t be seen with the human eye, only with a microscope. There they are, the smallest life forms found in our oceans, consisting of copepods, ostracods, mysids, shrimp larvae and many others.
All this time I’ve been snorkeling the oceans waters with large organisms waters, without any sight of these microorganism that truly uphold many marine organisms. While out on the bow spread at lookout, where only water is in sight not having seen any other humans for five weeks, I’ve never felt alone because of these tiny creatures. Looking down below me, I don’t see a vast emptiness of nothingness, but a whole ecosystem that has an abundance of species varying in size and to me that is the coolest thing ever!! The oceans have long provided humans with rich resources we depend on to stimulating the global economies, to providing food on the table. This trip has taught me to not take the environment where these organism live for granted, and to strive to protect their homes to the best of my abilities.
These last few days we are entering into the junior watch officer (JWO) and Junior Lab Officer (JLO) phase. Last night my watch (B Watch) had dawn watch where I was JWO for the first time. I felt prepared for this leadership’s role, but also felt very hectic. Managing a crew of people who you trust to keep this boat running and making sure the safety defenses are in place for any unprecedented event is a daunting task. I’ve learned to be a leader during this trip, but also learned to be part of a group made up of amazing people who you put your trust in. We all have individual strengths and weakness, but what amazes me is that we come together as one unit, and move forward as one. This is also holds true for the entire boat community, we are sailing in the middle of the pacific ocean where anything can happen, and the only people who are there to lean on is the entire boat community. When we first arrived in Kanton the only Phoenix island that is inhabitant with less than 50 people, I saw the same dynamic.
These people are in isolation from the rest of the world, and heavily rely on the skills and leaderships of others. The welcome ceremony showed me that the greatest things in life does not happen, with a man one show, but when people come together as one unit. That very moment I will cherish for a life time, where I a stranger was welcome to a community where unity is not taken for granted, and it made me appreciate the presence of others who I’ve grown to rely on not only during this trip, but also back at home.
Romero family thanks for letting me get to experience this amazing opportunity, see you all soon and leave me some baliadas, carne asada, and horchata for me. Happy Birthday Hector, unfortunately I did not find any dinosaurs out here, but I did find some cool looking marine creatures hopefully that’s your next obsession, you too Xavier!! Miss you all tons, Much love!
- Christ Romero, University of Massachusetts Amherst, B Watch