May 9. Aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, Honolulu, HI. Today the 26 members of the Stanford@SEA class of 2007 -- undergraduate students, graduate students and professors -- joined the Seamans at Pier 35.
Tomorrow, we will cast off the lines and make way for the Big Island of Hawai'i and Kealakekua Bay. Here we'll be met by well known sport fishers. The students will spend the morning fishing, snorkeling and practicing transects in the bay. In the evening, we'll be joined by Herb Kawainui Kane (pronounced KAY-ney). Kane, an artist, author and historian, will describe the events that took place at the bay when British explorer Captain James Cook visited and died there in 1779.
Kane's research on Polynesian canoes and voyaging led to his participation as general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hokule'a, on which he served as its first captain. Hokule'a has now made four round-trip voyages between Hawai'i and Tahiti, and a 16,000 mile pan-Polynesia voyage to New Zealand and back, all navigated without instruments.
We will then sail due south toward the island nation of Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas) and begin the scientific portion of the trip on the "transect leg". Here we hope to focus on a variety of student-led projects including identifying species of squid that live in the open sea, studying phytoplankton communities and ocean food webs, and why animals such as leatherback turtles and other Pacific predators use eddies -- the life-filled whirlpools that move across the ocean.
Of course, the first few days will be the hardest when all of us are learning the lines on the ship, and getting used to its pitch and roll. The trades are moderately strong, which will provide a quick sail to our destination. This hopefully will allow more time for science "on station" along the transect leg.
The enthusiasm is palpable as we prepare to set sail. -- Barb Block, chief scientist