SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
August 07, 2017
My SEA Family
9°52.6’S x 170°27.1’W
Ship’s Heading and Speed
191°, 5.0 knots
Currently Motorsailing under the four lowers
(For once) Cool and rainy, partly cloudy
Growing up in the small state of Rhode Island I fell in love with the ocean immediately. In the ‘Ocean State’ the closest beach is no more than 30 minutes away. Luckily for me the closest beach is right down the road. With having access to the ocean for the majority of my life I have learned to appreciate it and treat it with the upmost respect just like I would any human. The sad truth is however that our oceans are suffering from so many stressors that it is taking its toll on not only small islands countries such as Kiribati, but also pretty much every coastline throughout the world. I knew my involvement in this program would open my mind up to not only the South Pacific but the diverse biodiversity amongst it and the people who inhabit it. Knowing that I have been given this amazing opportunity, I knew that I had to work and push myself to my absolute maximum in order to study and learn about this unique part of the world that not many people are able to venture to let alone even know about.
My goal was to develop a baseline and understanding about the biodiversity levels, sea level temperature and salinity, conservation and preservation methods, and the overall effects of climate change and sea level rise on these pristine atolls located in the middle of the South Pacific. I can say with the highest enthusiasm that my goal has not only been reached but extended so far past what I had expected. Not only did I learn that the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is flourishing beyond belief with biodiversity and seabird populations mainly due to the “no-take zone” that was established in PIPA in 2013 which prohibits international commercial fishing throughout PIPA (one of the projects I focused on). I have been snorkeling in places like Cozumel, Belize, St. Thomas, and St. John, but snorkeling in a marine protected area like PIPA above beautiful, healthy and continuing to grow coral reefs was something that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. My favorite snorkel stop throughout our spectacular journey was an atoll by the name of Nikumororo which has been uninhabited since the 1940’s. The marine life was breathtaking and the fish and sharks were curious and fearless. I have never snorkeled in an ecosystem that is so unfamiliar with human interactions that they would swim right up to you in spite of curiosity. The Black Tip Reef Sharks which can grow up to 8 (we did not see any larger than 5 don’t worry parents) was definitely my favorite memory of this trip because they would come within feet of you before veering away. My appreciation and acceptance for these beautiful creatures grew without a doubt and they play such a vital and key role in their given ecosystems.
I never thought that getting involved in a program like SEA Semester that I would develop such an attachment to my peers and staff and can honestly call them my some of my closest friends. We all connected and worked extremely well together since the first day of shore component. After a few days we pretty much all knew each other and shared the common but very important role of protecting and preserving our marine environment for future generations to come. I am happy to say that I developed friendships that will last so much longer than just the duration of this program. I cannot thank my parents enough for pushing me towards my involvement in this program and if it were not for them then I would have missed out on potentially the best five weeks of my life (yeah I know I am only 20 years old but still…21 August 26th but who’s counting?) Over these past five weeks the Robert C. Seamans has been a second home to me and I would not have wanted to share this once in a lifetime experience with anyone but my amazing crewmates, staff, professors, and of course Captain Chris. Thank you SEA for opening my eyes more than I could ever imagine and expand my views, passions, and strength to continue to preserve and protect the amazing oceans amongst us and all the life that inhabits it.