How to make the ocean's surface your ceiling

We have four and a half days of steaming from Fiji to the Phoenix Islands. During this "down time," we've been busy having science meetings, planning the details of each dive, getting to know each other. And of course, adjusting to the 12 to 15 ft. waves that have been playing with our stomachs for the past 24 hours.

The NAI'A at sea

Sickness aside, we're a third of the way to PIPA, which means we're making great time! As the waves have been rolling, I've had plenty of time to think about what we're doing here, what our goals are, and what to share with you in this blog. Hours of thinking later, I've come to this: it's all about floors and ceilings. Let me explain.

In New England, we're seafaring people. We live in Coastal states, and many of us relate to the ocean in a very personal way. The ocean dictates much of our weather, and many of our activities. Yet, when we engage with the ocean, we use it as a "floor." We surf on it. We sail on it. We fish from the surface. We go to the beach to look at it. At best, we sometimes (brrr!) swim in it, but unless you are a SCUBA diver, your most likely encounter with the Atlantic is as a "floor." When you SCUBA dive, a mentality shift happens and you start thinking of the sea as a "ceiling." More specifically, the sea surface is a ceiling.

The Ocean as a floor (left) and as a ceiling (right).
Photos taken by Keith Ellenbogen diving from the NAI'A in Fiji. That expedition blog is here.

There is just so much below the surface! Now, this may seem obvious and intuitive--and it is, especially if you're reading this blog, you already know of some of the wonders that lie beneath. But have you experienced it? Have you flown between the surface and the seafloor? It's truly like flying. That ability to move, almost weightlessly, between the ceiling and floor is hard to convey to anyone who only thinks of the ocean as a "floor."

Yet, that shift in mentality from "floor" to "ceiling" is critical for ocean conservation. After all, throwing trash into the ocean is easy if you're in a "floor" mentality--after all, you can't see the trash. It just disappears. But shift your thought to the sea as a "ceiling," and you'll realize that there are massive amounts of trash piling up amidst the ocean denizens that amaze and wonder us all. So, as I continue the stomach acrobatics at sea, I encourage you to engage in some mental acrobatics at home. Picture yourself flying beneath the surface of the ocean, and re-orient yourself so that the floor (surface) becomes the ceiling. As this trip continues to unfold, you'll better be able to envision what we see, and how we engage with the ocean with SCUBA gear.

Until then ... wishing you calm seas and sunny skies.



  1. Great post Randi!
    That portal photo is really neat :)

  2. Thank you for the compliment, and for reading. It's great to know that we're not all alone, even though we're en route to one of the most remote places on the planet!