It’s day 24 and we’re miles from anywhere our interactions with the outside world come from sporadic email exchanges via a very clunky satellite app. None of us however are complaining and the snippets we receive from loved ones and the wider world are treasured.
We’re a well oiled cohesive family now that work together to meet our scientific and swimming goals whilst all keeping one another sane. The simple things that our fast paced digital lives pas over now meaning; evening meals are a time when we sit, eat and enjoy each others company with not a phone in sight.
Outside of our 67ft sailing capsule I can list our physical interactions with the wider world on one hand. These glimpses that civilisation exists have come in the form of ships on the distant horizon; 2 shipping containers, one cruise liner and two fishing boats. The excitement that’s generated when you spot something on the horizon is tangible, how close we will come to it? who’s on it,? where’s it going?. It’s these moments that make you realise how gregarious an animal we really are, and how the value of such interactions increases exponentially the further you distance yourself from the civilised world.
This gap for me and I believe I speak for everyone on the crew is filled by a greater appreciation of the animals we see around us everyday. I had a wild dream when signing up for the expedition that just maybe I’d be diving with whales in the middle of pacific, that hasn’t happened.. yet. But we have had some visitors to our floating home.
Our first visitor was a red footed booby, who took a night off respite on our bow and allowed us all to go say hello, and even posed for a few photos. The birdlife is very evident and if you look hard enough there is always a turn, petrel, booby, tropical bird or even an albatross cruising either in our wake our along side us.
If you see enough birds or a ‘bird pile’, then you have a good chance like we did four days in to see a maritime feeding frenzy. We were graced with good fortune to see a pod of Hawaiin Spinner Dolphins who had no interest in the boat but were charging back and forth escorted by a flock of birds as they worked for their dinner. Our next interaction with dolphins was on the 1st of July, when a pod of 30-60 pan tropic spotted dolphins decided to escort the boat during sunrise. I deployed the hydrophone that morning and speaker connected we were all able to share in their underwater conversation. Ben says that from his experience swimming the best interactions with marine life come on the calmer days, with the ocean coming to say hello, and so far he’s not been wrong.
The birds are particular curious of our very own Dr Dolittle; Ben. They appear to be fascinated by his methodical splashing as he follows his perpetually moving swimline. Is he a fish, can we eat him? Is he catching fish? Can we eat them? We signal Ben to stop by killing the outboard (renewably charged electrical I’ll add) should he have some fans come to visit. Ben much like a bobbing seal surfaces and gives us a look to ascertain a reason for stopping his swimming meditation, to which he’s greeted with two people often pointing above or behind him.
The albatross are spectacular creatures of immense size, that seem to have an equal measure of curiosity, landing alongside Ben and paddling with him. When he’s stopped they sit next to him and will just stare at this floating human head, tap at his goggles and just hang out. They are drawn to colors and contrast, with everything potentially something that could be eaten. The sad fact that in all our interactions we see them not only tap at us but at the debris in the water with us, and the pictures of birds stomachs filled with plastic becomes all too real. We pluck these pieces away from them, knowing sadly that they will just fly onto the next piece momentarily.
30°02 N / 145°24 W
Adam – Medic
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Photo credits @joshmunoz, @sea.marshall, @osleston, @dwlangdon