SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
July 16, 2019
Exciting Days aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans
0° 01.869’ S, 170° 01.163’ W, entered the Phoenix Islands Protected Areas Boundary from the North this morning!
Ship’s Heading & Speed
190°, 7.0 knots
Sunny with scattered cumulus clouds.
We have had quite a few very exciting days here on SSV Robert C. Seamans, and there seems to be no slowing down. July 14th we crossed the equator and celebrated my 20th birthday. July 15th we turned right around, and we spent our day learning how to go aloft and completing our lab practical. Today we officially reached the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, completing our first scientific deployments in PIPA! Soon we will be making our first stop on the island of Kanton so we have been preparing a couple songs to sing for the people inhabiting the island.
It seems as though on the boat, we are always doing something very exciting or something incredible is happening right around us. One of my highlights of the trip has been spotting seabirds. If I am not on watch, sleeping, or in class, I am likely to be found scanning the horizon on the quarter deck with my Central Pacific bird ID guide in hand. As much as I love our inland Northeastern birds, there is nothing like seeing an Albatross, Shearwater, or Booby circle around our boat looking around for a nice fish to eat. Occasionally they will even hitch a ride with us, as places to rest on their long foraging journeys are hard to come by. Our friend Barry, pictured with Captain Rick, spend the night preening and sleeping on our boom. He rightfully earned his nickname; Barry the Boom Booby. Although seeing these seabirds up close and personal is a truly rare experience, as they are not very accustomed to humans here and therefore are not afraid to get too close, it can get a little old once they leave and cleanup of our deck begins.
This afternoon, B watch was scheduled from 1300-1900. It was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun poking through puffy cumulus clouds. A very stark difference from our last shift from 1900 July 15th to 0100 July 16th where we were in heavy rains and winds for the entirety of the night. After a good night’s sleep in my nice dry bunk, I was ready for my watch shift in lab later in the day. We spent the time processing zooplankton and water samples that the morning watch brought up from their deployments. They had done a hydrocast, a tucker trawl deep and shallow cast, and finally a neuston net
tow. This left us quite a bit to sort through.
Firstly we processed the samples by shifting through them and pulling out all the Halobates, which are flies that sit on the surface of the water, and fish larvae. Normally we pull out any large jellies such as the Portuguese Man of War, but we did not find any today. We set aside 1 mL of our zooplankton biomass for our 100 count sample and preserved the rest in ethanol for later processing with the Halobates and fish larvae. We were left with 3 samples from 100 counts from the two tucker trawls and neuston net deployment. At this time, we also processed water samples for chlorophyll-a, taken from the hydrocast. Next we took our three 100 count samples to the microscope for identification. Our 100 counts from today were filled with colorful Copepods, many Ostracods, and multiple types of shrimp larvae, true shrimp, Mysids, and Euphausids. Additionally there were a couple different snails in our samples and quite a few Siphonophores (Bishop’s hats). Getting to go through the 100 counts is always makes for an exciting day in the lab, as you never know what interesting organisms you are going to find in the samples.
- Izzy Mize, B Watch, University of Vermont class of ‘21