Science says the olfactory system provides our strongest sensory connection to memory. When I step aboard the R/V Kilo Moana in Honolulu Harbor, the first thing I notice are the smells: the unique mix of industrial cleaner, steel, salt spray, and cooking oil immediately transports me back to the months I spent at sea last year. I’ve never been on this ship before, yet everything looks familiar: the beige hallways, the bolted handrails, the posted safety protocols, the bright orange EEBDs, the red immersion suits, and the strict, bold reminders printed on paper warped from humidity: Shut the doors quietly. Use hand sanitizer before meals. If it hasn’t been digested through your body, don’t flush it down the toilet.Read More
Before 2018, I had never spent more than two days on a boat in the open ocean.
In the past nine months, I have joined four different major research expeditions, culminating in over 100 days spent living and working at sea. Below are just a few moments (and people) that stand out in my mind.Read More
When Chief Officer Jason Garwood hands me a mug of tea, I accept it gratefully and gently blow on the emanating steam. The force of my breath forms tiny ripples across the small circle of hot liquid. Outside, the early morning breeze generates the same effect, creating steady, rhythmic waves across the surface of the northeastern tropical Pacific. Right now we are roughly 215 miles off the coast of southern Mexico.Read More
As we lower down and splash into the rolling water, I feel a child-like sense of joy. This is fun! Especially today—the sunshine is righteous. When I went out in this boat three days ago, I wore my fleece and soft shell jacket. Now, after so many cool gray days, it finally feels like summer. We zoom away from the ship and I relish the sensation of hard wind in my face and the sight of sunlight twinkling on the water's surface.Read More
We're heading to Laughing Bird Caye, the only marine area in Belize designated as a national park. When it comes to coral reef conservation, death and despair tend to dominate the headlines. But Laughing Bird is a success story, thanks in part to the hard-working folks at Fragments of Hope and other local people who care deeply about preserving the Belize Barrier Reef. In the 10 days we've spent here, one thing has been made abundantly clear - the locals have great pride (and concern) for the natural environment.Read More
The Belize coastline extends roughly 240 miles and includes hundreds of small islands and cayes, but our journey today is short. Twenty minutes after leaving the dock, we arrive at False Caye.
The water here is shallow - no more than 15 feet at the deepest part. We leave our scuba gear in the boat and jump in with snorkels and plastic bins. I am immediately blown away by the abundance of life - the color and variety of shapes and sizes of organisms here is unlike anything I've seen underwater.Read More
Weighing in at just 8,867 square miles, one might consider Belize a light-weight country. It is roughly the size of Massachusetts - or one sixth the size of North Carolina. Yet this small, coastal nation boasts some of the most striking biological diversity in this part of the world, including 80% of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef - the largest reef in the northern hemisphere.
I'm not aware of any of these facts as I cram myself and my camera bags into a van outside the Belize City airport.Read More