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Day 13 |
Jun 05, 2014

Day at Sea west of Luzon Island

By Malcolm Turner, Naturalist
15 27 N 119 44 E
Air Temperature:
1008 hPa
Weather: Cloudy, occasional rain
Wind: 15 knot SW

Another dawn at sea greeted early risers on the deck walking or visiting the gym. The sea was calm but not glassy throughout the day with the occasional squall of wind and light rain to ease the humidity.

We were travelling up the west side of Luzon in a relatively busy seaway and merchant ships and small fishing vessels attracted out interest. Luzon itself maintained a constant skyline off the starboard bow.

A sea day allowed us the luxury of four lectures to fuel the brain between the essential meal breaks fuelling the rest of our bodies. First up was Andrew Marshall with "World's First Sailors" a fascinating account of Austronesian migration and navigation during the great human settlement of the Pacific. The skilfully built sailing craft and the sophistication of the navigation were impressive and gave us a newfound appreciation of the people, originally from near these parts, to explore and colonise the small island dots in the vast Pacific Ocean.

The forgotten (not by me) Alfred Russell Wallace was the subject of Mick Fogg's lecture "Great Minds Think Alike". Wallace has many claims to fame but two are paramount to biologists. First he co-discovered the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin which was called the Darwin/Wallace theory for many years. Secondly he is known for defining the boundary between two great ecological regions - the Oriental and Australesian. Known as Wallace’s line it runs between Bali and Lombok and up between Borneo and Sulawesi. Our ship was following its course for much of this cruise.

After lunch Juan Carlos Restrepo treated us with "Geology Rocks" an introduction to the basic terminology and concepts of geology of the locations we had been, and were visiting. Juan certainly made it interesting and laid a solid foundation (stone) of knowledge of the formation of Earths continents, islands and rocks.

I had the last lecture slot with a talk titled "Oil Spills and Shipping Disasters". For this I was able to wear my hat as Environmental and Science Coordinator of shipping and pollution emergencies in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. I gave an oversight of the types of incidents that occur and how we respond to minimise impacts on human life and safety, the environment and wildlife. I was able to draw on many years experience responding to ship groundings and oil spills form the Great Barrier Reef to the Gulf of Mexico.

Now all that was left to do was to relax with a pleasant evening of fine dining and swapping cruising stories.

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