Location: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

This morning was the prettiest weather we’ve seen in Rarotonga yet. In fact, the whole day was sunny and crisp, except for one tiny shower at the end of dinner. In contrast to the last few days that have been a steady mix of partly sunny to rainy weather, today was glorious. Right after breakfast, we got down to business doing a plankton lab with Amanda and Margaux. First, we took the dinghies out to tow the plankton nets. We have two nets- one with very fine mesh to catch phytoplankton (aka single-celled floating plants) and one with slightly larger mesh for catching zooplankton (aka tiny floating animals). After we collected our samples, we broke out the microscopes and checked out what we found. Everyone practiced using the microscopes, drawing their specimens, and identifying their critters using our plankton reference books. We had a lot of fun, learned some new things, and the students got several new entries done for their species ID books for Margaux’s marine biology class.

After we were finished with the lab, the students had shore time to go check out the Punanga Nui market a few minutes away from the dock. In addition to the market, they explored the rest of the town as well and had lunch ashore. The foods eaten ranged from waffles to pizza, to acai bowls, to frozen coffee and smoothies, to burgers. Lots of shopping was also done, with some beautiful souvenirs and treasures as the highlight. One really interesting thing we have discovered while doing our shopping is they have triangle-shaped coins here! None of us had ever seen that before.

The students returned to Argo at 5 pm to have some shower and study time before dinner. During this time, several students helped me sweat Tim up the rig to do a rig inspection before our upcoming passage to Tonga. We have so enjoyed our time here in Rarotonga, and we are looking forward to more diving, some hiking, and some beach time before we leave for our next destination.

Pictured: More diving photos from our dives yesterday; happy chicken in a tree at the market; the triangle coins; a scrumptious acai bowl, and Tim working hard up in the rigging.