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Mission Blog: September 21, 2009
A Long Awaited Departure

By Jonatha Giddens, Scientist, Diver

Launching small boat.

Launching small boat (Photo: NOAA)

The morning of September 17th was long awaited by a new cohort of NOAA scientific divers. Myself and three others: Nakoa Goo, Krista Pierce, and Hailey Ramey have been training all summer in preparation for our new post as Fish divers on this Northwestern Hawaiian Islands cruise. For each of us it is our first cruise and something that we have been anticipating for quite some time.

Finally the moment arrived and Hi'ialakai departed from Pearl Harbor for our 35 days at sea. The ship's crew and the experienced scientists all helped us to adjust to our new surroundings, as we steamed northwestward. What is most striking about life aboard ship is just how much activity is
Boarding the ship.

Boarding the ship (Photo: NOAA)

accomplished each day, humming along in perfect concert. This is surely attributed to the ship's experienced, knowledgeable, and caring leaders. Though it is somewhat overwhelming to learn all of the safety procedures in the first day, these rules quickly makes sense because they are what enable all 47 cruise participants to safely engage in the mission that we are here to do: to learn about Hawaii's remote coral reefs. When I first saw one of our small dive-boats launch from the main vessel with my companions all dressed in orange vests and hardhats ready for the days' dives, I thought to myself, "So, this is what we are here to do". Among the blue flowing waters, silent rocks and flights of birds, we are the two-legged orange-dressed ones, zipping about in noisy circles, collecting information points to answer questions about our surroundings. We are the stewards of this amazing ecosystem, even as we seek to understand it.

Within the first few days we have become familiar with boat procedures and found our role within the NOAA team. Yet, as familiar as one may become with daily operations, each day aboard ship is a privilege and gratitude for our work and for each other is fundamental.


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