Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day 5: Traveling Day

Noon Lat Long: 23 38.8 N, 164 49.5 W

Aloha students, teachers, and friends, its great to hear from you! The crew sends a special hello today to the students of Burbank and Edwards Middle Schools – your enthusiasm keeps us fueled,
here thousands of miles from home…..

Today has been wonderful day – part preparation, part travel, and lots of fun as we make a beeline for our next sampling spot, taking advantage of some swift, steady winds. We’ve been cruising along at a steady 7-9 knots.

Early morning, we pulled up our first and only sample for the day – as today is mostly a travel day. We’re a few days yet from our destination, but still find evidence of plastic in all of our samples…

Daybreak also brought us a stunning view of Necker Island(shown above), or “Mokumanamana”, an extremely remote Island in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, (NWHI-MNM). Mokumanana stands 200 feet high, a relatively small Island with sheer rocky cliffs and sparse vegetation. Now on the National Registry of Historic Places, Mokumanana was likely used for religious purposes by local Islanders, between AD 1100 and AD 1700.

As we needed to ma
ke some emergency boat repairs in the lee (calm) afforded by the island acting as a windbreak, we had the rare opportunity to observe the island's austere beauty. Frigate birds, petrels and boobies were everywhere. A young humpback whale surfaced right next to the boat. A rich habitat indeed!

The momentary reverie was shattered as we spotted a large piece of floating debris – a plastic fishing float bobbing on the water where moments before a baby humpback had surfaced.

We mentioned yesterday that we’d share a bit more about the NWHI-MNM, lesser known than the Southeast Islands, yet home to some breathtaking ecosystems and some beautiful, highly endangered species, such as the Hawaiian Monk Seal, a fascinating creature we learned a bit about today from our
underwater photographer Joel Paschal. Joel used to work for NOAA studying and removing marine debris from the National Monument, and had the very rare opportunity of visiting many of these remote Islands. In fact he lived on a sailboat for four months doing research here.

Rather than tell you what we learned about the Monk Seal, lets see what you can find out on your own ( explore here, and here)
Send a few interesting facts about the Monk Seal by this coming Monday, and we’ll chose one or two of your answers to post on our blog.

Though we didn’t spot any endangered species today, we had some other great wildlife sightings – two Humpback Whales, a bunch of Frigates, some petrels, black footed albatross, three pink footed boobies that hitched a free ride on our mast for a while, and an Ono – this last one is actually a fish that we caught, here are Jeff and Anna holding it up.

Your Questions:
Several of you had some questions, some of which we’ll answer, others we’re going to play hardball and throw right back at you!
Has the ORV Alguita ever been attacked by a shark?
No. The ORV Alguita is a good 50 feet long, a very solid craft, and doesn’t resembl
e anything a shark would find appetizing. We’d love to see some sharks – from the safety of our boat that is! What kind of foods would be appealing to a large predatory shark, say a great white?

What do we eat besides fish?
With 4 avid cooks on board, and a boat full of fresh ingredients, we’ve been eating like kings! Hilo has an awesome farmers market, and we loaded up on local, organic produce just before leaving.
Every m
orning, our Captain whips up a beautiful fruit salad, with pineapples, mangos, papayas, apples, bananas, tangerines, and jicama, which we all snack on till….till someone prepares the next meal! Joel made a delicious risotto the other day, Anna seems to like making salads – lately shredded carrots and red peppers with a ginger-garlic-cilantro vinagrette, Jeff is our poke master (poke is a raw fish Hawaiian dish, have you ever tried it?) and has also been making lots of popcorn, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and garlic salt. Delicious. Marcus and Herb both enjoy eating, and fortunately, doing dishes!

What is a cookie cutter shark?
Here’s one we are going to return back to you. We want to know what YOU can find out! Tell us, and again, we’ll post a few good answers on our blog. (try here!)

Thanks again to you all from the ORV Alguita Crew, and keep your questions coming - your support keeps the wind in our sails!

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