Sunday, May 13, 2007


May 12. Aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. We sailed from Oahu to the island of Hawai'i. The high winds channeling between the islands made for some rough seas within a few hours of the departure. With Beaufort force 5 and 6 conditions we were able to get across to Kealakekua Bay a half day ahead of schedule.
The calm waters of the Big Island were a welcome relief to the students and crew who found the channel crossings a bit uncomfortable. Today, we split into teams: three teams went sport-fishing aboard local charter boats Sea Baby III, Silky and a third vessel, and another team went snorkeling at the Captain Cook memorial. Here scientists Rob Dunbar and Boris Worm led our students on an underwater survey in the marine preserve to study the diverse reef fish and unusually healthy corals of Kealakekua Bay.

Our students sharpened their in-the-water observational skills in advance of our field work in the Line Islands. This is the healthiest coral preserve in the Hawai'ian Islands and provides a useful reference site as we move to warmer waters near the equator.

The team aboard the Sea Baby III fished with legendary Captain Freddy Rice. Within 2 hours they hooked up to a striped marlin and the line screamed off the reel. Karen Lone, a Stanford junior, jumped into the fighting chair and reeled the fish to the boat where I quickly tagged the fish over the side with a pop-up satellite archival tag. The fish was released without any difficulties: it swished its tail and swam away. The tagging event will complement ongoing studies of striped marlin being conducted by New Zealand scientists in collaboration with the Block lab. Students aboard the fishing vessel Silky tagged and released a spearfish.
The spectacular day was capped when Herb Kane, noted Hawaiian artist and historian, mesmerized all aboard with stories of Captain Cook's encounters with native Hawai'ians in the bay in 1779, and of ancient voyages of the Polynesian voyagers. -- Barb Block, chief scientist

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