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  • Laura Marín

Sea-ing patterns

When you are about to embark on an experience like this one for the first time, a million ideas rush through your mind. Filled with a smidge of fear and a whole lot of excitement, you step on this boat knowing you are going to experience the real deal. The real way in which humanity has explored the oceans.

While daydreaming on deck, it is magic to imagine what it must have been like in the past. It is mind-blowing to think about the first seafarers who ventured out on rafts and canoes. They started observing patterns in the ocean and using them to travel from island to island with an incredible precision.

Hōkūle‘a by Herb Kawanui. From: Native Voices.

Polynesians would sail on double-hull canoes joined by two crossbeams (see picture above). They would navigate the ocean, across storms and high wind conditions, through observation and memorization of the night sky, but also of their environment. Ancient navigators, besides using the sun and the stars, were capable of utilizing currents and swell patterns by detecting changes in the speed of their canoes and in ocean surface temperatures. They would also look for patterns of bioluminescence which they found indicated the direction to nearby islands. Plus, they would also track changes caused by islands and atolls in the air and sea interface, like the Canary Eddy Corridor (CEC), and followed seabirds, winds, and weather patterns to distant shores.

In a similar way, current oceanographers are able to navigate the ocean yet, they do so by tracking said patterns through technology. At the beginning of the campaign, the SeaSoar (see picture below) was deployed to hunt for the location of Garajonay, Anaga, and Nublo. Loaded with a lot of different sensors, it was trawled behind the boat and made to measure temperature, salinity, and many other parameters, up and down the water column. Via these measurements, the cores of the different eddies were identified, and their path modelled. Hereby, allowing us to study them as they form and later, disappear.

Fishing out our SeaSoar.

Picture: Javier Arístegui

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