SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
February 07, 2014
S251 Weblog 07 February 2014
16° 03.4’S x 146° 37.5’W
Course and Speed
Anchored at Fakarava
Remain anchored until 09 Feb
Cloud cover all day, with occasional rain. Same as yesterday!
Another day ashore on the beautiful atoll of Fakarava! Today we were up bright and early to make our way to shore for a busy day of learning, sightseeing and fun. Our first stop of the day was Lulu, a pearl farm. Here we got to see how oysters are harvested and their pearls extracted. It was amazing to see the famous French Polynesian black pearls coming straight out of live oysters.
Next up was a visit to Yvonne, a sustainable farm on the ocean side (outer rim) of the island. This farm was unlike any other I have ever seen because it is located right next to the beach. You can hear and see waves crashing ashore while working in the adjacent plant beds. The sandy, dry soil that covers the atoll makes growing food of any sort very difficult. To combat this problem, the farmers created a system in which they dig long, wide pits in the sandy soil and then fill them with rich compost. This compost provides the plants with the nutrients they need to survive in this intense environment. Using this method, the famers are able to successfully grow cabbage, taro, and a few varieties of herbs. They also have many palm trees and we had a lot of fun opening up the coconuts to drink the water and eat the fruit. Moohono, our professor, also taught us how to make coconut milk by shredding up the fruit and squeezing the liquid out in a cloth. With our bellies full of coconut, it was time to hop on our bus again to go to the beach and snorkel! We went to a spot near the end of the island, the salt up our noses was completely worth it when we encountered the diversity of the fish: striped, solid, white, colorful, long, short, skinny and round, it looked like a scene straight out of Finding Nemo!
After a long snorkeling session, we stumbled out of the waves and Moohono showed us an ancient Marae (a traditional Polynesian holy site) named Tainoka, dating back to 1100 AD! It was awesome to see there were still remains of the structures that existed here so long ago and feel how the mana of the site continues today. We then traveled to the end of the island to check out the tide pools where the lagoon and the ocean meet, representing the balance of shelter and exposure inherent in the atolls in the vast Pacific Ocean.
After a long day, it was time for us to explore the island on our own. Many of us headed over to a community dock to do some more snorkeling. While on the dock and in the water, we saw many lemon sharks, black tipped reef sharks and stingrays glide by. It is amazing to see these large creatures swimming so close to us, especially when I am so used to the mellow waters of the Long Island Sound! Today was a true adventure, and I can’t wait to see what else the Robert Seamans has in store for us!