400 miles north of Fiji, 30 knot winds, 12 foot seas, meals served in bowls, waves and spray continuously wash over the starboard side of the vessel, a challenge to take a shower, walk or even sleep as you have to compensate for your body being thrown this way and that by the erratic motion of the sea and vessel. A few people are seasick and lying mostly in their bunks; others sit where they can, lying where they can, and eat when and what they can. We are passing through the inter-tropical convergence zone.
I wrote the above passage a couple days ago. Now we are within 24 hours of our first Phoenix Island study site, Nikumaroro. The wind has died out considerably as we are nearing the equator, an area that is typically calmer. Northern and southern hemisphere weather patterns are separated by the equatorial region of Earth. Storms in the north spin counterclockwise, and storms in the south spin clockwise, but the storms never cross the equator, a natural boundary between these two halves of the earth.
Team members on deck during the previous expedition to the Phoenix Islands (Photo: Cat Holloway)
© September 12, 2009 New England Aquarium