At Sea Toward the Cook Islands

May 14, 2018 - National Geographic Orion

Destined for Aitutaki, one of the small southern islands within the oceanic archipelago of the Cook Islands, we roll through a day at sea. The weather slapped rains, winds, and swells into National Geographic Orion, yet we pressed on comfortably inside the lounge watching an array of presentations.

Our Global Guest Perspectives Guest Speaker Dr. Joe MacInnis fascinated us with stories from his unique experience working with the infamous genius, James Cameron. From deep sea submersibles to managing profound bereavement, Dr. MacInnis took us on an emotional yet triumphant journey. He shared his insights and respectfulness after working with such a distinguished team of individuals, all beyond intelligent in their own rights.

Naturalist Cristiana Damiano presented a talk about shark biology and conservation throughout Polynesia next. Despite having a controversial reputation, Cristiana showed us how intriguing, beautiful, and adaptive these ancient animals can be.

Continuing on a fishy theme, Undersea Specialist Caitlyn Webster presented her knowledge about identifying the menagerie of fish biodiversity within the South Pacific. Despite the many family groups, colors, shapes, and sizes, Caitlyn articulated some of the key pointers in order to properly figure out what we were seeing swimming in the sea.

The final presentation for the day was given by our National Geographic Photographer Sisse Brimberg, who spoke about her travels on assignment and how to approach photography with creativity and a tangible passion.

Tonight’s recap introduced yet another less familiar type of fish: after sensing the ship’s water pressure as it sliced through the sea, a flying fish had unfortunately opted to “hit the deck”. Although the flying fish perished, we were able to examine its impressive, wing-like pectoral fins and physiology before returning it to sleep with the fishes.

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About the Author

Caitlyn Webster

Undersea Specialist

Caitlyn grew up entranced by the sea. She first became SCUBA certified while in high school in southern California and found her true passion diving and studying marine life. After graduating from Cal Poly State University: San Luis Obispo with a degree in Biological Sciences and a concentration in Marine Science and Fisheries, she began her career in research diving operations and logistics. Through different universities and various opportunities, Caitlyn has been fortunate enough to travel to particularly remote parts of the world, sharing her enthusiasm for exploring the seas and marine conservation.

About the Photographer

Mike Greenfelder

Undersea Specialist

Mike learned early on that the best way to escape Ohio was to become a marine biologist.  During college at Wittenberg University he attended a semester at Duke University's Marine Lab — that time only confirmed his love for all things oceanic and maritime.  After graduation, Mike promptly moved to Catalina Island in California where he taught marine biology to school kids.  Since 1999, Mike has been working and traveling chasing his three loves: marine critters, photography, and birds.

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