SEA Currents: phoenix islands
An Eventful Day
Today marks our second day docked at Kanton, and it has been an eventful one. The morning started off for my watch, B Watch, tending to the Robert C. Seamans as we were tasked with helping reposition the fenders, which protect our ship from crashing into the dock. After completing this task, we then helped to prepare the gift our crew was to give the people of Kanton during tonight’s potluck dinner.
Ashore in Kanton
Today was our first day ashore in Kanton. We spent the day snorkeling, doing chores around the boat, doing school work, and exploring the island. My watch, A watch, got to go snorkeling an do work/chores today, we’ll get to explore the island tomorrow.
The day started with a brief all hands meeting on the quarter deck with a briefing of the day’s festivities
Arrival at Kanton Atoll
Today was a special day for the SSV Robert C. Seamans and everyone on board, as we finally made it through our nine-day sail from Pago Pago, American Samoa to Kanton Island, Republic of Kiribati. Each day the temperature gets higher and higher as we approach the equator, but our spirits remain high, especially after we passed by Enderbury Island yesterday. I had never seen a coral atoll island before, and it reminded me of many fiction stories I’ve read about surviving on a deserted island, which was a little weird since Enderbury Island looked so calm and pretty.
PIPA student profiled in Brown University’s “News from Brown”
SEA Semester in the News
In summer at sea, adventurous student continues a personal academic journey
By David Orenstein
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Peter Baek traces his inspiration as a scientist, pre-med student and explorer to a beloved movie.
“Ever since watching ‘Finding Nemo’ with my grandpa and dad, our love for fish and the ocean blossomed as every shelf around the house became occupied with aquariums,” said Baek, a rising sophomore at Brown University. “My fascination with fish ultimately led to my interest in science as I continued to get deeper into the water chemistry and biology of fish keeping. The passing of my grandpa from laryngeal cancer, however, transformed my interest of science to something deeper — the desire to pursue a career in oncology in dedication to my grandpa.”
SEA Semester students find signs of hope in remote Phoenix Islands
We like to say SEA Semester students adventure with a purpose. Nowhere is that more true than on our recent expedition aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans to the rarely visited Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), in the island nation of Kiribati.
SEA Semester students, crew and scientists, led by SEA Professor of Oceanography Dr. Jan Witting, together with researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New England Aquarium, sailed 1,600 miles across the Equatorial Pacific from Honolulu to reach the remote archipelago, one of the last coral wildernesses in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On board the Robert C. Seamans
The sleek grey shape gliding into a patch of calm water next to our ship confirms the bow lookout’s call just a moment before. A shark! And there it is, off our science deck, dorsal fin sticking out of the water, languidly, gracefully moving past us. You can count four remoras clinging to its back, the hangers-on to this top dog of the pelagic, open-ocean ecosystem. For that is where we are, two days out of PIPA, nearest land a tiny island in the Tokelau group and American Samoa five hundred miles away.
At the End of the World
It’s fitting that Nikumaroro is an island of spirits in I-Kiribati culture, because it certainly feels possessed by something not present in the other islands we’ve anchored by—it feels like the end of the world, or at least the human one. Extremely isolated, heavily forested, guarded by steep underwater slopes and an expansive reef, and home to thousands of seabirds, innumerable schools of fish, turtles, sharks, and unnervingly large crabs, it is not a human place.
Setting Sails and Finding Hope
I have recently finished my first draft for my policy project after a lot of help from my policy class discussions. My project attempts to explore ways to redistribute an allocation of fishing rights back to Kiribati, so their resources and profits could be internalized. This differs from their current situation, lacking the infrastructure to cost effectively harvest the resource (mainly tuna) they sell the rights to fish in their EEZ to foreign vessels which often originate from the United States and Japan.
Another beautiful sunny day in PIPA! As we sail into August, we’re savoring the last days of our journey in this incredible place. With less than two weeks to go, everyone is working hard on projects and perfecting their terrible tans. In a little less than two days we will arrive at our last Phoenix Island, Nikumaroro. We are all excited to do some last minute snorkeling and explore our last stop; if it’s anything like Kanton and Orona we’re in for a treat!
The Policy Component
Hi, folks! It’s time for something a little different today. This blog entry is brought to you not by a student, but by the grooviest marine policy teaching assistant this side of the equator. What’s marine policy, you say? And what is a policy TA doing aboard the Robert C. Seamans, a student sailing vessel better known for its salty watch officers, wizardly marine scientists, and a can-do crew of exceptional students? I’m glad you asked!