Ship’s meeting just ended, and it marked the finale of our weekly Friday afternoon marine conservation talks from Barb and Boris. The weather cooperated for another precious day of class outside on the quarter deck – blue skies, fair-weather cumulus, and northeasterly trades seem too good to be true at times. Our greater appreciation of the beautiful weather follows our almost weeklong squally journey through the ITCZ (I think everyone onboard would agree that we overstayed our welcome). Anyway, we have about two hours until first sitting for dinner, and our two ‘COWs’ (Chief of the Week) have left us with plenty to think about. As Barb pointed out a few days ago, the students of Stanford@SEA 2009 are experiencing a very different ocean than she did on her voyage on the Westward. Despite passing through some highly productive waters, our lack of shark, turtle or marine mammal sightings throughout the cruise track is a good indication of how depleted our oceans have become in terms of biodiversity and top predators.
However, as I’m sure everyone at home can imagine, it is difficult to be a pessimist while sailing on a tall ship through the Central Pacific Ocean. So our marine conservation series ended on an appropriately optimistic note, with a nod towards the intimate experience and education we’ve had with the Pacific Ocean and how we can bring that home with us to increase awareness and even *gasp!* concern about the status of our finite and fragile marine resources.
The limited nature of these resources is even more apparent now as we approach Hawai’i and head into the more oligotrophic waters of the North Pacific Gyre. Thankfully there is still plenty to occupy us as we approach the home stretch. Our GPS continues to be concealed by a sign that says ‘Seek Guidance Elsewhere,’ so every morning and evening between Civil and Nautical Twilight, we are perfecting out celestial navigation skills through STAR FRENZYING!! During ‘Star Frenzy’ the quarter deck overflows with sextants and the air is filled with shouts of “Standby on Arcturus! Ready…and…MARK!” We have also moved into J.W.O./J.L.O. phase (junior watch officer/junior lab officer), so the 22 of us who thought a jib jigger was some sort of dance four weeks ago are now taking turns running the ship during our watches. Any offerings made to King Neptune would be greatly appreciated.