Report from Great Barrier Island

December 12, 2019

Amalia Murgueitio Calle, Universidad de Los Andes

Shy trees, avoiding touching each other’s canopy in a Kuari forest.

Shy trees, avoiding touching each other’s canopy in a Kuari forest.

Ship's Log

Current Position
Great Barrier Island

Warm and very calmed seas. Colder waters!

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-289

Amalia from C watch here! Happy to report on the beautiful day we had anchored in a bay in the Great Barrier Island. Summer vibes on this part of the world! (Or at least they look like summer vibes to this tropical girl) and seas as calm as a mirror. For some of us, the day started pretty early with anchor watches, where we made sure we were anchored correctly and the ship wasn’t in danger.*

Mum, mine was at 3 am, are you proud of me for actually waking up?* We started our day with some yummy breakfast, followed by chores and then a whole morning dedicated to catching up with the academics most of us had been repressing for weeks in the attempt to get some sleep in our moving bunks. The gloomy days at a smoggy Bogotá I had as an undergrad seem to be far behind, with this beautiful paradisiac landscape working on fun essays about the mysteries of the sea, while Australasian gannets performed majestic dives as we got some wording in our papers. After a hard-working morning, we took different ways. Some of us took naps, others went aloft, some listened to the swim call, others took a tan in the quarterdeck and some kept working on their projects.

Most of my shipmates were more dedicated than me. I just couldn’t resist the temptation to go to shore and wander in the forest. These two days in the island have been incredible for spotting biodiversity! Yesterday’s shark and a couple skates (or were they stingrays?) have me convinced that there are more elasmobranchs in the island that humans.

Today I just couldn’t avoid the feeling of nostalgia when seeing the palm trees and giant ferns (Cyatheaceae) in great abundance in the forest. Somehow it made me feel like home, yet, the also big number of gymnosperms and native podocarps kept reminding me I’m a long way from the Andes. I’ll allow myself to be corny when thinking how much fun my mum would have trying to figure out the plants in the forest… Or imagining my father’s joy when seeing the beautiful birds with iridescent feathers looking exactly like they came out of a David Attemborough documentary. The tameness of this birds that evolved in a habitat without predators was shocking to me: just a few meters from me I got to see the New Zealand native pigeon and a beautiful parrot called the North Island Kaka.

Back in the ship we had another brilliant meal, followed by the event of the day: our science presentations. All this weeks the data we had been gathered was presented in the Seaman’s quarterdeck. It’s impressive to see how everyone has grown in their oceanographic literacy, but I guess the ocean is just that powerful. We were happy to learn how each group investigating alkalinity and pH, chlorophyll A, zooplankton, plastics and seabirds got interesting results that were the product of our collective effort. Now we are getting ready for our last day anchored in paradise.

- Amalia Murgueitio Calle, Universidad de Los Andes

PD: A quienes leen esto para enterarse de mis aventuras y para saber que estoy bien, sepan que los amo profundamente y me hacen muchísima falta. Garabato también, aunque tengo clarísimo que no me extraña…

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