The first expedition hours are especially exhilarating when most everything is a first: first trip to the Line Islands, first visit to Palmyra Atoll, first dive on a spectacular healthy reef. It's all new for Jill Harris, a graduate student in the Smith Lab at Scripps Oceanography. She shares her thoughts upon arrival at Palmyra aboard the Hanse Explorer and her first underwater view of the reef.
by Jill Harris, member of the Benthic Team
As a first-time visitor to Palmyra, I hope that my first impressions of this place can help our blog readers understand just how phenomenal it is to be here. We are on a tiny speck of land in the middle—the middle!—of the vast Pacific ocean.
Day 1: We arrive at Palmyra mid-morning, and I marvel at how smoothly the captain of the Hanse Explorer maneuvers his ship up to the packed-earth dock at the field station. Gangway down, we quickly spring into action to unload our scientific equipment. For these few days, we can use the ample lab space at the research station here—a treat compared to onboard the ship, where everything needs to be packed up and secured to the deck each night.
In the afternoon, we are officially welcomed to the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. We learn about daily life on Palmyra (where to sleep and eat), important safety procedures, and, perhaps most importantly, we are reminded about the guiding mission of this place: wildlife first. We are, after all, but temporary visitors to a very remote, thriving wilderness.