This post is from the SEA Chief Scientist on-board, Dr. Jan Witting.
We are on our way to the Phoenix Islands! The island of Oahu and the lights of Honolulu are fast receding in our wake as we are heading into the night and toward Enderbury Island (our next landfall) in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA). Still some 1500 nautical miles to go and an equator to cross before we get there, but we are on our way.
|Reefs and wildlife in PIPA|
There are many remarkable things about the Phoenix Islands and the Protected Area. PIPA is a part of the remote island nation of Kiribati, and makes up over 11 percent of the ocean surface controlled by this country. It represents a huge commitment toward ocean conservation on part of this small nation with few resources. The eight islands comprising this archipelago feature pristine coral reefs with rich fauna of corals, other invertebrates and fish. It is a place where one can see glimpses of what the Pacific looked like before we humans started having an impact on an ocean-wide scale. And as it stands, we know very little about it!
Favorable winds and gentle seas; The sails are set and we are on our way to PIPA!
Ours is a collaborative mission between SEA, New England Aquarium, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area Agency, Kiribati. This voyage of discovery brings together a diverse group of people from across the globe. Our ship carries a community of 33 students, ocean scientists, mariners and conservation managers from the US, Kiribati, Tahiti, India, Australia and Europe.
As diverse as we are as a group, we have a strong unity of purpose. Starting on our arrival in PIPA in some 12 days' time, we’ll be working hard over the following three weeks to create a map of the ocean currents, temperature, planktonic life and the nutrients that support it, and much more.
|Researchers survey reefs of PIPA on a previous expedition|
We are the first to do this, and there is much to do, more than I can describe in this post. So in the coming weeks I hope you come back to this blog to hear more from all aboard about our work and unfolding discoveries, about PIPA, about sailing and our ship, about the ocean and our efforts to conserve and protect it.
On board the Robert C. Seamans,
Jan Witting, Chief Scientist