Hi all, Satya here to report on a special segment of life devoted to taking
in all the love and knowledge that our watery planet has to offer. As I am starting to write this post many of our shipboard comrades have begun plunging from the bow into the warm and unbelievably blue and turquoise lagoon of the atoll nation of Tuvalu.
The slated goal for this post is to provide some insight into the weather phenomena we have been experiencing recently, so I will begin there and then speak a bit more about life aboard the ship and this new place we have all just begun to explore.
In general, we have been bearing witness to the low-pressure nature of these lower latitudes; driven by high solar irradiance near the equator, there is an excess of warm air that rises and is soon replaced by cooler denser air from higher latitudes. As this warm sea-born air rises, it soon reaches the lifting condensation level - the altitude at which condensation occurs as a result of reduced atmospheric pressure. This condensation results in often impressive cloud formation and resultant frequent precipitation. Thus, our northward approach into Tuvalu over the last few days would be best characterized by a baseline of quite sticky, warm conditions dotted with the occasional drenching squall.
It is pretty interesting to consider that the amount of rainfall at these low latitudes is so great that the top bit of the water column exhibits a low salinity fingerprint of this phenomenon due to the effective dilution of the seawater. It is this heavy precipitation that allows the people of this region to survive despite the extremely limited water table.
The combination of all this cloud formation and a near constant unobstructed view of the horizon has made for some truly heart-tugging sunsets, complete with those holy sunbeams known as crepuscular rays. Crepuscular rays are formed by sunlight escaping from between clouds and leaping across the sky; as one might expect, they have a counterpart, the anti-crepuscular rays - these are the shadows cast by the same clouds and are seen as large swaths of darkness stretching across the sky. At times these patches can be dark enough that stars are visible during the day, providing a unique opportunity for celestial navigation. To my knowledge a strong example of anti-crepuscular rays has yet to be observed on this trip but we’ve seen hints of these cloud shadows. During our transit from Fiji to Tuvalu quite an ethical conversation arose surrounding the catching of fish. When the sailing/science deployment situation allows for it, we have been trailing two handlines, trying out various lures - poppers, squid skirts, and spoons - in the hope of landing a few of these ocean friends. Before the first fish - a small tuna -- was caught, a few of us had agreed to throw the first one back as a thank you to the ocean, as an act of gratitude. But once that powerful lively little fish was back in the deep blue and the deck a sanguine hue, a critical conversation of whether this was the right move began to surface. This notion of giving back to the ocean, to mother earth as a whole, of demonstrating care by sparing a life, had come from a good place - but was this really the caring act we had hoped it would be? Was sinking a sharp piece of steel into the jaw of a creature in order to haul them aboard and toss them back really an act of love? At this point I would say it is not. Perhaps such a feeling of care and stewardship should manifest in other ways. I think the conclusion many of us came to is that despite our seemingly endless supply of dry stores, we are fishing to eat, and if we don’t intend to eat nearly everything that ends up laying on the quarterdeck with a hook in its mouth, the lines should stay out of the water. That all being said, there is a good argument for releasing smaller fish to allow growth towards a mature reproductive individual. Unless one really needs to eat, nothing is black and white.
I’m sure further discussion surrounding these ethics will ensue; may this simply be the first installment of thoughtful engagement with the bounty of the natural world. Shoutouts Mom - As I lay floating on my back in the unimaginably blue waters of this atoll lagoon, I have certainly been channeling all the great energy you bring into this world. I hope you have found some watery happy places of late.
All the real ones: you know who you are - sending best wishes to each of you and all your current endeavors. Can’t wait to share some great stories. Soraya: Ma vi mantas! They were so beautiful y pense en ti. Te amo rayita - Soleil