Crossing the date line

We hauled up the anchor just after dark on Wednesday and started on the 30 hour steam to Tonga. On the way we crossed the date line and lost a day. A rolling following sea made for a comfortable night’s sleep. Today we had trolling lines out and caught a barracuda, and kept it and its cargo of a small remora and parasitic copepods for the museum collections. At about the halfway mark we searched for the top of Capricorn Seamount which rises to within 250 m of the sea surface. Our plan was to do some deepwater fishing. But it was not at its charted position, and a search a few miles either side of where it should be found the shallowest area to be over 400 m – too deep to fish. So we pushed on to Vava’u.

Our perspective of the Pacific Ocean today.

Our perspective of the Pacific Ocean today.

Photo: Richard Robinson, www.depth.co.nz

One thing that has struck us all is how little life we have seen at the sea surface since we left Niue. It was only around Capricorn Seamount that we saw a number of seabirds working. As there are no upwellings or other deformities of the ocean currents, there are no areas of high productivity where birds could get a feed. It is a reminder of the vast expanse of Pacific Ocean we are traversing, and yet there is a diversity of oceanographic features that have their own discrete biological composition.

At dusk Vava’u came into view and we will drop anchor later tonight just outside of the harbour.

The Braveheart displays the Tongan flag.

The Braveheart displays the Tongan flag.

Photo: Richard Robinson, www.depth.co.nz

By Dr Tom Trnski

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