We are in rain and rough seas this morning, so the Promenade Deck is closed on both sides to passengers. A rainbow appears to the south of us this morning (see banner image above). I have a continental breakfast in my stateroom this morning, adding a cappuccino from the Explorations Cafe. Today’s lunch is an Apple and bacon pannenkoek (pancake) from the Grand Dutch Cafe – delicious!
Hawaiian Connectivity – Naturalist John shares a study of the Hawaiian islands and reefs found northwest of Kaua’i, which he participated in.
Active volcanoes are only on Maui and Big Island (youngest)
New island forming off the Big Island
Birds first to arrive to newly-formed islands
Nene goose (from Canada Goose)
Introduced birds have largely replaced native Hawaiian birds
Mongoose to control rats, ended up decimating native birds
Papahanaumoku Wakea – Marine protected area – Northwestern Hawaiian Islands – NW of Kaua’i
Ko Hawai’i Pae ‘Aina
Small islands and reefs
Species protected and population restoring
False Killer Whale
Acropora – hard coral
Red Snapper & Yellow fin tuna (Ahi)
Climate change will cause a 1 meter increase in sea level in Hawai’i by 2100
689 nm NE of Kahalui
1,709 nm from Vancouver sailing at an average speed of 18.3 kts
I track the ship’s position and speed independently using the MarineTraffic app on my iPhone.
Made in New York – Lincoln Center Stage quartet play selections from:
Dave Brubeck’s Take Five
Other New York artists
I go to the Crow’s Nest for a Martini, and then go to the Lido for a quick dinner of delicious pork ribs, fries and veggies before going to the early show: Step One Dance Company Presents: In Tandem – a fusion of latin dance, blues singer – a full house!
I have a Benedictine liqueur as I watch this very energetic show. I then spend a couple of hours up at the Crow’s Nest working on my photos and videos, and sipping on my second Martini of the day. Such a decadent life…
I pack my bags and check out from the hotel around 11:30AM, since I leave Tucson this evening aboard the Amtrak train Sunset Limited back to Los Angeles and onward to Seattle. Since I have the whole day, I head north on N Oracle Road to the Biosphere 2 located in Oracle, AZ – about a half hour drive. The admission is US$20, but I qualify for a senior discount, so it costs me $18. This includes a hour and a quarter walking tour of the Biosphere.
Biosphere 2 was built from private funding, although it is now owned and operated by the University of Arizona. The first experiment demonstrated the viability of a closed ecological system supporting and maintaining human life in outer space by shutting eight humans inside the Biosphere for two years. They have unique large-scale experimental apparatus housing seven model ecosystems with some active research by teams of multidisciplinary scientists. The tour showcases the tropical orchard, desert, ocean, and tropical rainforest. Our guide tells us the rainforest is pretty overgrown, and the desert still needs a project. The scientific focus appears to be Water and Climate. There are also lots of school kids taking special educational programs.
I have to say after listening to our tour guide and seeing the facility for myself, it strikes me as kind of an odd facility. It is a long way from being sustainable, since it uses huge amounts of energy from the electrical grid to maintain and alter the various internal climatic systems. Of course this can be enormously valuable to scientists who want to see effects of climate change, since the climate can be altered inside in a matter of hours, and can be maintained precisely for days or weeks at a time. Our guide candidly admitted that the University of Arizona is still in the process of moving the facility from the idealism it was built for to a more scientifically relevant footing.
Biosphere 2 is an engineering marvel. The ecosystems are precisely maintained inside a sealed environment – airtight doors are the only way in and out. The Lungs allow the atmosphere inside to expand and contract without caving in or exploding the enclosing glass and metal structures. Of course, those airtight doors were closed for the first two years during the original experiment involving humans!
After the tour, I stop into the B2 Cafe for some lunch before returning to the parking lot and heading south to Tucson to take my train to Los Angeles, and (eventually) home.