SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
February 02, 2014
S251 Weblog 02 February 2014
At the dock in Papeete, Tahiti
Hot and humid with intermittent squalls of rain
Ground Hog Day is very different in Tahiti, where the sun quickly moves high overhead and no shadows are visible. (Also, it is summer here, so both winter and the promise of spring have been left behind in North America.) The program “Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems” (SPICE) has begun! Nineteen students from seventeen different American colleges arrived in Papeete at the crack of dawn yesterday, having traveled all day and all night from our campus on Cape Cod. It is a very amiable group and was quickly incorporated into the crew of the Robert C. Seamans. At 5:00 this morning we walked to the local marketplace, where fresh fish and produce were displayed in impressive rainbows of color. It was a wonderful introduction to the themes of our course. We are studying issues of sustainability in water and energy sources, the food web, aquaculture, and fisheries. We are also looking at the impacts of tourism, the introductions of new species on the biodiversity of the region, and at climate change and sea level rise.
We intend to visit several islands: Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago; Nuku Hiva, Fatu Hiva and Tahuata in the Marquesas; and Mangareva in the Gambier Islands, before we return to Tahiti on March 16. We will spend a final week in a mountain camp, where we will work in a traditional agricultural operation and assist with the restoration of a marae (a sacred stone platform) with Moohono Niva, our archaeologist colleague. It promises to be a great adventure with much to learn.
Having made the transition from a very cold winter to a very hot summer in a day, I can’t help but think of the people I left behind in bitter cold temperatures. Warmest thoughts to my Aunt Theresa and the Columban Sisters in Silver Creek, N.Y., and our colleagues in Woods Hole.