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SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

August 10, 2015

An Update from S-261

Jan Witting, Chief Scientist

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Motor sailing on the placid Pacific. Photo from our Phantom Drone by Jan

12° 33.9’ S x 170° 31.2’ W

Winds NE, Beaufort Force 4

Steering 160˚ True

Speed / Sail Plan
Making 6 knots under Main, Staysails, Fish, jib, jib topsail.

Souls on Board

Dear Readers of our Blog,

First off, everything is well on board the ship.  The absence of entries in the past few days are the result of many competing deadlines as our voyage is starting to draw to a close.  Papers are due in just two day, student presentations will occur tomorrow and so the dedication to blog writing has taken a decided hit.  So let me recap the past few days.

We exited the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the early morning hours of Saturday the 8th.  Earlier in the evening we did our last full-on hydrographic research station and so ended one of the great shipboard routines that has provided one sort of a heartbeat to our daily lives. During our morning and evening stations we’ve been deploying the rosette water sampler down to 2000’ depth, and following that with two plankton tows for a total of some 2 hours of work on the lab deck while the ship was stopped (for the rosette) or moving slowly at 2 knots (for the plankton tows).

Now, getting the samples is in the end relatively easy, the hard part is the analysis and writing, and that is what has all of the student body preoccupied at the moment.  Since that last station we’ve been busily analyzing nutrient and chlorophyll samples in the lab, while the microscopes have been in constant use.  Andre and Julia are going through last of the plankton samples looking for larval Tuna (and finding them!). 

The self-christened Salp Sistahs team of Meghan, Madeleine and Erica have been identifying, measuring and dissecting dozens upon dozens of salps, a kind of gelatinous plankton related to sea squirts (FYI for those with access to tidal pools).  The seamount team of Sam, Quinn, Sage, Nathan and Karl have been wading in the sea of data on currents, salinity, temperature, and phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance.  Their task is to assess the role seamounts can play in supporting the hotspots of life we’ve witnessed here in PIPA. 

These are just some examples of the student projects using the data we collected during many, many hours during the 67 stations we did during this work-filled cruise.  A variety of different projects, different foci, reflecting the diversity of the student interests and the richness of the opportunities the ocean around us presents.

Another noteworthy event is that we finally found some wind, and have been happily sailing at about 6 knots under the main, staysails, jib and the fisherman staysail (or fish).  The prevailing El Nino has made this one of the least windy cruises in memory, and the breeze we are enjoying now sure feels nice, provides a lift in spirits and more challenges for the deck watches. 

So farewell to PIPA, though many of the discoveries still await in the mountain of data yet to be fully analyzed.  I do believe some of the delayed blogs will yet be posted, so please do check back for more stories about the past few days!

- Jan

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s261  science  research • (2) Comments
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#1. Posted by Dan Kemp on August 11, 2015

Thanks for the update Jan! So glad to hear about the positive vibe on-board.

#2. Posted by VIrginia Lagergren on August 11, 2015

    So excited to know you will be coming home Sunday!  Even if it is a short visit before you take off again.  Love you!



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