Bula from S311 aboard the Robert C. Seamans!
Bula, or Hello! In Fijian is a good way to start our blog on this cruise. For three days now we have been here in the bustling port of Denarau where this friendly greeting meets us whenever we step away from the ship - sometimes even on the ship as people walk past us on the dock. These first days on the ship are always packed with orientations, trainings, safety drills and the like, but to break the avalanche of new information we also managed to squeeze in a day-long snorkeling tour aboard one of the local sailing catamarans – I am sure you’ll hear about that experience in blogs to come.
Ahead of us is a research cruise for which this Oceans and Climate class has been preparing for the past five weeks. The climate of our planet is undergoing changes that at this moment seem unnervingly rapid. We’ve been studying the role that the ocean plays in all this, and in this moment of strengthening El Niño ocean/climate phenomenon that is being reported on widely, we are in the right place at the right time to put this preparation to use.
How much has the upper ocean warmed over the past decade? What consequences does such heating have for the oceanic ecosystem? How do we expect possible ecosystem changes to feed into the cycling of atmospheric carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean and back? Such questions are being asked by the student researchers in the studies they are preparing to conduct on this cruise, and I expect you’ll hear more about these topics in the weeks to come.
While the lab aboard the ship and all the scientific instrumentation will be the tools we’ll use to answer such questions, the voyage will of course present many other experiences. Squalls, sunsets, early morning wakeups, starry skies of a night watch, meals on gimballed tables that betray the angle of the ship’s heel… You will also hear many stories of these experiences.
The blank canvas of the Pacific Ocean, six weeks, and some 2800 nautical miles is ahead of us, and we’ll have to wait until Auckland how the painting turns out. This blog will serve both of us here onboard and you following our journey along; us to help ruminate and process the journey as it unfolds, and you to fill in, day-by-day, how we color in that canvas.
Professor, Chief Scientist
PS. I mentioned day-by-day above, something that isn’t strictly speaking true. Expect a daily blog from Monday-Friday, with an occasional delay in the when the blogs are posted.
Souls on Board
Satya Advani, Colorado College
Austin Black, Eckerd College
Grant Carey, University of San Diego
Prudence Criscoulo, Eckerd College
Caleb Dittmar, Williams College
Katharine Hassenfratz, Boston University
Hwan Huh, Boston College
Katherine Judy, University of Vermont
Susanna Kisker, Carleton College
Ruth Metcalfe, Pomona College
Soleil Michaud, University of San Diego
Grace Shoemaker, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
Mira Stephens, Carleton College
Emily Stringer, College of the Atlantic
Sophie Strock, Eckerd College
Mark Teh, Northeastern University
Richard Miller, Captain
Jan Witting, Chief Scientist
Abigail Werner, Chief Engineer
David Bonner III, Chief Mate
Matthew Bihrle, 1st Marine Tech
Katherine Rigney, 2nd Marine Tech
Nathan Bears, 2nd Mate
Camryn Ragland, 3rd Marine Tech
Sasha "Vuk" Vukasovich, 3rd Mate
Talia "Tobi" Buchman, Steward
Jacob Walker, Asst. Steward
Brielle Parse, Lab Tech
Sil Kiewiet de Jonge, Asst. Engineer
Fredrique Guevara-Prip, Mate in Training
Colin Hauke, Mate in Training
Margeaux Scholz, Mate in Training
Eva Hart, PA/Med Officer