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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

June 23, 2015

FINALLY!! First Dolphin Sighting!!

Robert Ramos, Wesleyan University

Aloha Aina

Robert skillfully (i.e. safely) deploying the secchi disc.

Noon Position
20° 19.1’N x 157° 00.3’W

Course steered
000° full and by. 

Taffrail Log
289 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
winds ENE BF 4 partly cloudy, sailing on starboard tack with 4 lower sails and JT. 

Marine Organisms
Shearwaters and DOLPHINS

Souls on Board

This morning was a rough one; I got up and everything was kind of spinning, probably because of the rocking of the ship, but nevertheless I pushed on to breakfast! Today we had some oatmeal with all kinds of cool toppings like raisins, peanut butter (which, sadly, I'm unable to eat), and brown sugar (of which I had heaps!). I had Morning Watch and that's supposed to go from 7 am until 1 pm with some class time in the middle. The first class of the morning for us was with Dr Brenda Jensen (HPU faculty) and I was a little sluggish getting there until suddenly, Mickey, our main engineer, ran up the steps from below decks and announced "Dolphins!" He could hear their whistles and squeaks of echolocation from the depths of the engine room!

Immediately I perked up and ran to the stern of the ship, desperately looking all about. It was then that I saw what I had been waiting this whole trip to see: DOLPHINS! Okay, they were like 40 yards from the boat, and maybe they only surfaced a few times with a quick spurt from their blowholes, but gosh darn it they were 100% BONAFIDE DOLPHINS! I quickly grabbed the binoculars and scanned the horizon for glimpses of these majestic creatures, and I did see a few splashes, but they were gone just as suddenly as they had arrived. Some even questioned if the dolphins were really there, but I knew in my heart that they were! By complete happenstance, Brenda was scheduled to talk to us about the different types of marine mammals that one could potentially see in Hawaiian waters. We also discussed policy and talked about what it would mean to move from a single-species to an ecosystem-based sanctuary plan.

The rest of the morning swam by in a blur of science! This was the first day that we got to work with all of the equipment that most of the other watches have already been fiddling with like the Neuston Tow, the Phytoplankton Net, the Carousel, and the Secchi Disk. The Neuston Tow captures anything along the surface like plankton, fish larvae, and even marine debris like bits of plastic. The Phytoplankton Net is lowered just below the surface of the water and captures tinier things like phytoplankton. The Carousel is really cool because it is lowered to about a 600 meter depth and from there, is hauled back up to the surface, taking water samples from different depths as it goes. Finally the Secchi Disk is used to determine water clarity; the farther down you can see the disk without it completely disappearing, the clearer the water is. The mates on deck actually bet on how far down the disk can make it before it disappeared and the students can take part in this as well. This time around I guessed 40 meters and the average depth turned out to be 40.5 meters, making me the winner of the pot, (what I get as a result is still to be determined). Overall I had a wonderful watch and a pretty exciting day, hopefully everything will continue to be as smooth and we will get to see more dolphins!

Stay Chilly Peeps,




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