Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back from SEA

Back from the 5 days with the UH SEA program. I wish I could say it was great, but man, the politics i've talked about before seemed to continue, not in the same way, but I guess it's just apparent my friend Alison is just not cut out for life at sea and was over her head. Now Alison is awesome and I adore her as a friend, but it's abundantly clear it was a good thing for me not to be on the first leg as she would have driven me crazy. By the time I arrived she had alienated the whole crew and was really rude to them, and wasn't much better to the students either, she was obviously "done", as was the crew. She'd organized some fantastic trips during the cruise, but a lot was done last minute, and really didn't cope well with the challenges that being at sea creates (weather not allowing you to sample, moorings not being good enough for certain areas etc.), nor did she seem to embrace all that SEA has to offer - namely the sailing and crewing component that makes up so much of what they do. It is the first of hopefully more UH cruises, and I hope this hasn't turned SEA off completely, Alison would be a great director for the program, as long as she remains on the ground, something myself and David, the other faculty involved talked about a lot on the way home today. So it was a tense 5 days, as I feel torn between Alison and SEA, seeing both sides. It was a learning experience for both sides, I hope both sides see their flaws and the ways to better work together in the future.

What was good is that I got to see a small slice of the SEA pie, got to ride the ship a little before i'm potentially  on a full cruise with them. I can honestly say all the SEA crew and science party were awesome in the way they handled the students, the students adored them and they were really learning. I'd feel very privileged to be able to work for SEA in the future. Some pics from the trip. 

Students up the rigging - having a great time! 
Two green sea turtles at the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island.
We had a tour of the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park from an awesome guide. 
Student Rhonda enjoying some R&R while under sail from the Big Island to Maui. 
To do an Opihi survey (limpets that are a cultural food, now endangered in many parts) for a student project we had to hike 2 miles over lava to a site within the Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve. On the way there were these brackish ponds, where rainwater had pooled and seawater had seeped through to create these lush pools teeming with shrimp and a nesting site for stilts. It was awesome, hiking through hot barren A'A' lava and over a crest would be these pools. Our Nature Conservancy guide Matt was awesome, as well as fearless during the Opihi transects - which were often sheer cliffs being pounded by the waves. All of us came back with scratches and bruises! 
Finding our way to the sites - these are areas that have been closed to fishing for the last two years, so are sampled by the Nature Conservancy regularly to look and see if they are recovering. So the sites we sampled were GPS points to make sure the same area was being sampled. Over barren, hot and dangerously sharp lava, the trek was a challenge, as was finding sites sometimes!  
This is what the end of the hike looked like - this was the final site of 15 we did. By this time the tide was so high it was too dangerous to keep surveying, so we sat, rehydrated and had a quick snorkel in this pool before heading back out of the closed reserve. Feel very special for being able to go in there. 
David, one of the other Hawaii Faculty displaying his Opihi wounds! 
What goes on at sea stays at sea. Well maybe not. These are some of the awesome SEA crew, who made clean up day a whole lot more fun than you could imagine. In the space of 3 hours the entire boat was scrubbed and cleaned, every surface inside and out. Everyone kicked in, science, students and crew alike. 
One of the students Andrew at the helm. I was in awe, by the time I arrived they had been at sea for 3 weeks, yet they knew every rope, every command and just got on to get the job done. It was awesome to see them take on the responsibility of the ship, take commands and pitch in together. What SEA is all about! 

1 comment:

Nicola (Which Name?) said...

Your blog looks great. Love the new look. You know. there are bits of Hawaii you are going to miss. :)