Don't Panic! (Packing for the Phoneix Islands Expedition)

8 islands, 7 uninhabited
Population: 41 humans
120+ species of corals
500+ species of fish
158,495 square miles (410,500 square km) of marine reserve (the world's largest*)
20 days on a boat
All starting in less than 3 weeks

Aquarium researcher Randi Rotjan

Where's my towel?

I disagree with Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams about towels. You need more than a towel when headed off on a grand adventure. So, what to pack?

Welcome to my world. For the next 2+ weeks, I will be preparing for the trip of a lifetime. I am a tropical marine biologist, and I'm no stranger to long trips in isolated, small spaces. But, I've never spent time living on a boat before, and, like most people, I've never been to the Phoenix Islands (in Kiribati). Check out the Phoenix Islands marker on the Live Blue Initiative to see where we're going!

Back to packing. I have the obvious ... Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV), video and camera equipment, transect lines, temperature loggers, liquid nitrogen, sample vials, clipboards and dive computers. I've also got:
SCUBA gear - check
Towel - check
MP3 player - check
Bathing suit - check

But this isn't a vacation; I have a lot of work to do! And, if I forget something, too bad! No stores. No concession stands. No nearby inhabited islands. Nope--all we'll have with us is what we bring, and whatever we can think to create using our MacGyver-like skills to hack whatever we need. What am I missing? Post your best packing advice in the comments section of this blog.

Even crazier, I'll be basically out of touch! Though I'll have limited satellite link access in order to upload blog posts, I'll basically be "offline" for 3 weeks. No facebook, no twitter. No phone. Just the 15 expedition members and the seas. And the 1000+ coral reef denizens surrounding us.

Enderbury, Phoenix Island Protected Area

So please join us on our adventures as we explore one of the most remote places on the planet. I'll blog about the science, the adventures, the mundane, the awe-inspiring ... I'll even have some special guests post here about their adventures in one of the most isolated, remote places on the globe. It will be a great comfort to know that I'm not really alone. So, with that, see you on the flip...


*Since this post was published, larger marine protected areas have been established. PIPA still remains one of the world's largest, however.

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