Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs
SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

August 02, 2018

Approaching Nikumaroro with thoughts of Amelia Earhart

Mackenzie Meier, University of New Hampshire


Above: Starry Starry Night on the Bobby C. Below: Sharky Sharky Shark! Photos by Kenzie Meier

Lat & Long
4° 29.85’S X 174° 33.6’ W


Motor Sailing at 160°

31° C; Wind ESE F5; Sea ENE 6ft

Souls on board

Amelia Earhart was from Atchison, Kansas; a hilly little town on the Missouri River, where they say she spent days looking out over the river and dreaming of flying. It's also considered the most haunted town in Kansas but her final resting place - Nikumaroro -- might be even more haunting. I've been wondering why a little girl from Kansas decided to fly around the world; and I'm wondering why a little girl from Kansas decided to sail across the Pacific Ocean. Maybe it was inevitable. The skies reminded Amelia of running up the hills in Atchison and looking so far you could see Missouri. The rolling waves remind me of prairie grasses blowing in the southern wind.

The sun reminds me of the blaring heat of August in Kansas, the nighttime reminds me of star gazing so far away from the city you can see the milky way and hauling lines reminds me of hauling water buckets out to the horses on a bright summers day. But we're not just here to stargaze. Science is our primary objective and we're getting lots of data from everyone's hard work and dedication.

I finally got to deploy the hydrophone at Orona and I will be doing another deployment at Nikumaroro. Hopefully eavesdropping on these reefs will help me to determine the state of the reef and be a useful tool for future PIPA scientists. The dawn lab watch (0100-0700) has an added responsibility of looking through data we've collected and analyzing a portion briefly. This provides an update to the crew on what we are actually learning out here (Deemed as "Sleep on it Science" segments, because most of us sleep on our reports after dawn watch until the ships meeting).

I found myself wondering if the plastic pollution was any different at this point is our trip where we are very isolated from direct pollution. This morning I looked through the plastic data. Unfortunately, we've been picking up plastic in our Neuston tows somewhat regularly. 2/3rds of our tows have plastics and our average plastic fragments per net are 6. In total we've picked up 167 pieces of plastic from the ocean and that is without considering microplastics; which we don't filter out or measure. Plastics are a fairly easy thing to eliminate from your life by switching to paper/re-usable straws, re-usable water bottles, canvas grocery bags, and beeswax or other reusable wraps. I'll certainly be reevaluating my plastic consumption after this trip.

As we approach the Nikumaroro my mind is haunted by the thought of a brave young women flying over this place. Spending days in Atchison as a kid, I'd walk through her bedroom and past her backyard and I'd hope I would be adventurous like her; and now, here I am at her final destination. I wonder if she ever regretted the journey.

Pictures of Amelia's plane are to come. Stay tuned.

Signing off,
Kenzie, University of New Hampshire

Shoutout time: Mom: Happy Birthday. Dad: I might need a new computer. It's possible that is more haunted than your home town and Nikumaroro combined, or the spirits are starting to enter my machine.
@ashlyn, saw some sharks. oh and some dolphins.


Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s281  pipa  phoenix islands • (2) Comments
Previous entry: A duty to protect    Next entry: Reflections from the engine room


#1. Posted by Shelley Ryan on August 07, 2018

I love this!!! And I love how you are finding so many reminders of home, even out in the middle of the ocean. I know everyone in Atchison would be thrilled if you could find that plane. wink Thanks for the birthday wishes! ‘Am looking forward to celebrating with you when you get home. No worries about the computer; Dad is already looking at options. ‘See you soon!!!!

#2. Posted by Abigail St. Pierre on August 08, 2018

Mackenzie, Mackenzie, Mackenzie. Thanks for telling me about the blogs before you went off the grid



Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.