2015 Expedition: Mission Control

Aquarium researchers and staff are on expedition to the remote Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) to study the natural history of the islands, surrounding reefs and connecting open water ecosystems. Research on the 2015 expedition will directly inform the management and maintenance of this world-renowned MPA. Today's post comes from the expedition's co-chief scientists, Drs. Randi Rotjan and Sangeeta Mangubhai

The team has arrived, safe and sound, some jet-lagged and others bounding with energy. We have come from different directions – Fiji, Kiribati, USA and Saudi Arabia.

Beautiful day in Apia, Samoa

Our last two days are focused very much on opening boxes and making sure we have everything, and checking that nothing got broken on the journey over. We literally filled a shipping container for this trip with 45 dive tanks, a small skiff, microscopes, experimental equipment, etc.

Brian working with the Hanse Explorer crew to load all our gear on the boat

The Hanse Explorer's crane hoisting gear

Getting everything packed and to the boat is one thing; organizing everything on-board is quite another! Thanks for the crane and the many hands, the team members and crew worked together to get the job done.

Aranteiti helping to set up the zodiac

Robert preparing his chemicals

Peter reviewing what he needs to do for his iron experiments

The onboard shenanigans include zodiac set-up, last minute protocol checks, chemical mixing, compressor checks, tank filling and other important safety and logistical setups. And with the jobs completed, the people and supplies and equipment onboard, the time has finally come.

It's like being in a mission control room (think "Apollo 13").
  • Dive safety? Check. 
  • Medical safety? Check. 
  • Biosecurity? Check. 
  • All passengers onboard? Check. 
  • All equipment and supplies? Check. 
  • Everyone ready for the adventure of their lives? Check check. :-) 

Good to go. Green light. "So long, Earth - see you on the flip side".

So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

— Randi and Sangeeta

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