Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Day in the Line Islands

The Seamans off Fanning Island, from a drone
I am enjoying my second leisurely Sunday in two days, as we have been on- Kiribas time, a day ahead of our time- and because we're leaving today for Honolulu- we're setting our clocks back - so theoretically we're getting two Sundays! One yesterday (Kiribati Sunday) and ours today (US time). 

Sunday in Fanning Island was spectacular. We were greeted by stormy weather upon arrival early in the weekend-the skies have now opened up to hot sun and tropical clouds.

Our time this past week has been spent in Xmas Island (3 days) - a place that enabled some exploration on shore runs, and for mission and rec projects- some enjoyable fishy reefs and Fanning Island (2 nights and 2.5 day. At the channel and shore we were greeted by rolling breakers that have hampered our ability to snorkel close to shore.  But we explored a new anchorage at this site- and have enjoyed two snorkel missions and a few lucky students and staff were able to get inshore to see this remarkable village.

Here a lush island with about 4 villages of about 3500  inhabitants is sitting in the tropics on the edge of a spectacular lagoon - they are harvesting seaweed, eating fish from the sea- and the reefs are in better shape then our last visit. With people we lose the sharks- and thus our snorkels are without apex predators.

The RCS is preparing for our leg home- uphill to Honolulu. The winds are still light and the temperatures are high.  Today we brought a collection of gifts, books and funding for the primary school at fanning after the teacher recognized us and we had a great greeting after two years of being here. We plan to head north this afternoon and once in deep waters- do some station work for students studying the physical and biological oceanography of the equatorial  north counter-current region to better understand the oxygen minimum zone that is ever present here.

Students are working on their data analyses and preparing for writing their papers while moving up in the leadership roles both on the deck and science side of the watches. The fishing continues to be incredible with Dr. Francisco Chavez helping to keep the good luck going- he captured a prize jack estimated over 30 lbs, and the fishing team fed the boat again after capturing a large wahoo and another yellowfin and skipjack in the productive waters around Fanning Island.  All is well and spirits are high aboard the RCS! But its nice to think we're headed home to the USA!


KarenH said...
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KarenH said...

Took me a second to recognize you Erica! What an amazing adventure you are all on. (had to fix my spelling mistakes....)