We are in the home stretch of the cruise and there are only a few days left until we arrive back in Honolulu. It is a bittersweet feeling. I know most people aboard are looking forward to getting home and in part I am one of those people but I can't help but feel a pang of sadness that the trip is coming to an end. I have been looking forward to this cruise for a long time, actually most of my life.
Monk seal waving to me on shipwreck in Kure lagoon. (Photo: Hailey Ramey)
I grew up on Maui and started scuba diving at a young age. Going to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands has always been a dream of mine. I have watched every show and read every book in awe and envy wondering if I would ever get a chance to visit this special place. Even during college while working hard towards my marine science degree I never thought I would be lucky enough to come here. This trip has been a validation of all my hard work. This has been my maiden voyage aboard the Hi'ialakai and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this cruise.
The ship tied up to the pier at Midway. (Photo: Hailey Ramey)
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when we embarked on this 35 day cruise. I knew it would be exciting and adventurous but what I didn't foresee was how life changing it would be. Going to the NWHI is like going back in time to a time when large predators still ruled the seas. This trip has given me the opportunity to see things I have never seen before. It was humbling to see big schools of sharks and ulua with no apprehension or concern of my presence, no hesitation as to whether I was a threat or not. This is how it should be. Humans are not the top predator in this ecosystem.
This has been a very memorable trip for me. I will not soon forget any of the amazing experiences this cruise has afforded me. From swimming amidst the school of fifty Galapagos sharks at Necker to my surprise encounter with a monk seal on a shipwreck in the crystal clear waters of Kure lagoon. These are all memories I will cherish for a lifetime. The crew and fellow scientists have been so inspiring and helpful to those of us who are new to the ship. I am so proud to be a part of this team of scientists. We had a really great group of people who worked hard and worked together to make this an amazing cruise. I hope to come back and work with these people again on future cruises.