About the Expedition

On January 21, 2010, scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (CRED/PIFSC), along with visiting scientists from the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego State University, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and local agencies in American Samoa, departed on a three month expedition to Johnston Atoll, Howland and Baker Islands, American Samoa, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Kingman Reef aboard the NOAA Ship Hi'ialakai. This is the fifth biennial Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP) expedition to American Samoa and the seventh to the Pacific Remote Island Areas. The expedition is sponsored by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) and is divided into three segment sequentially led by Chief Scientists Benjamin Richards, Rusty Brainard and Jamison Gove.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Finding the lee

by Benjamin Richards
Hurricane Rene tracks across Samoa
Our transit south from Baker Island to American Samoa has gone well and has been largely uneventful.  That is, at least, until we began to feel the effects of hurricane Rene, which has been wandering around in the south Pacific.  The storm first tracked east to the north of Samoa and then turned back to the west, this time to the south of Samoa.  As Pago Pago, our intended destination is on the south side of the island of Tutuila, this southerly storm track did not bode well.  Waiting to see how conditions would change, we slowed our southward course and eventually decided to delay our arrival in Pago Pago, to ride out the storm in the lee of the island of 'Upolu.

During our transit this morning we experienced stiff winds in the neighborhood of 40 knots and driving rain, but the good ship Hi'ialakai rode the seas well and handled beautifully.  We are currently in the lee of 'Upolu, where the wind and seas are calm and a gentle swell rolls in from the east.  We will bide our time here until the storm clears and plan to arrive in Pago Pago on the morning of 2/14, Valentine's Day.

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