SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
December 07, 2018
Reindeer turning back into caribou
39˚28.54’ S 176˚55.19’E, Alongside in Napier
Winds out of the WSW at a force 2, calm seas in the harbor, 12.5˚C chilly morning after a cold front yesterday
Today was the first day of planned activity in Napier and things on land are already becoming familiar again. When we arrived in port, Captain Rappaport used an analogy during one of our first musters to warn us against falling back in to old habits while we are here. The analogy went something like, “when a reindeer is allowed to leave its pen for more than three days it turns back into a caribou.” With this knowledge we went out into the touristy town of Napier yesterday, during which time me and a few others did laundry and familiarized ourselves with the town. Today we had a planned trip to the National Aquarium in which we would receive a tour and give short presentations to a small audience of aquarium staff.
While finishing up chores this morning we had the opportunity to meet two members/representatives from the local iwi who were visiting the ship for a tour. This was a double-sided visit and we had plans to tour their iwi’s waka later, or a Polynesian war canoe, which sailed around the Pacific and was alongside in the small fishing harbor a mile or so from the port. When we arrived at the waka, we were received with a traditional maori greeting and given a brief history of their iwi and the waka itself, named Te Matau a Māui. After this we were able to explore the canoe which can hold up to 16 crew members, half the people who are on the Robert C. Seamans currently! During this experience I was struck by the feeling of community surrounding this canoe and I myself felt included in this community. I think that this was partially due to the community which sailing, especially open ocean sailing, fosters, as well as the welcoming nature of the people we had just met. I really enjoyed seeing two aspects of our experience from this semester coming together and this was such a special opportunity.
After this we had a bit of free time and Caitlin, Matt, Olivia, Katie, and I went to the art museum downtown for a quick visit before our appointment at the aquarium. The museum featured an array of exhibits and one room had an entire space dedicated to art made from plastics. This reminded me of the plastic water bottle sculptures back in the Madden Center in Woods Hole. The exhibit was BEAUTIFUL and I took lots of pictures.
By the time we got to the aquarium I was exhausted and it was hard to get myself ready for a presentation. Thankfully, when we got to the room where we were to present it was very casual and we basically had a discussion with two members of the staff who had worked at the aquarium for a number of years. The biggest thing that stuck out to me from our conversation with them was how similarly the issues we face in the U.S. are to the issue faced in New Zealand. There is a huge disconnect within the public’s awareness of watershed health and many people just a few kilometers away from the coast have never experienced the sea first hand. One specific example in the Bay of Plenty (North of Napier, we will sail through it on our way back to Auckland) home owners are being asked to remove/improve septic systems to increase the swim-ability of the ocean environment near the homes, and some are resistant to this change or unable to comply so the problem has persisted. This is too familiar to what I have experienced and learned about both back at home and at school.
Tomorrow we are heading to our second gannet colony of the trip and then more time in port. I’m hoping to rent a bike and get some more exploring done before we head out again.
- Lindsay Fox, A Watch, Sewanee: The University of the South