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Our Living World is Dying

Stacey Worman, 2006-2007 Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellow



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Date: June 24, 2006

To: Undisclosed Recipients

Re: Our Maiden Voyage(s).


I'd like to thank everyone for their warm and fuzzy wishes for our upcoming adventures. And everyone can thank (or blame) Matt Bishop and my Alternative Spring Break group for Brenda, the rather large...uh...I mean, full figured...coconut lady escorting me around the world.

But anyways...

It's been less than a week and here I am -- writing to you, from the other side of the world, and I'm already submerged within another world that is upside down, inside out, and as foreign as foreign could possibly be -- and it's perhaps the most beautiful and magical thing that I've ever experienced. But contrary to what you may be thinking, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am presently in Australia.

Instead -- it has everything to do with the fact that I am currently aboard the RV Heraclitus, The Planetary Coral Reef Foundation's 82-foot ocean-going research junk (Junk: a Chinese sailing vessel originally developed during the Han Dynasty and further evolved to become one of the most successful ship types in history). Although the composition of the RV Heraclitus' is a rotating crew of 14 officers and students, the ship itself has circumvented the world in the past six years and is amidst a decade long expedition to map the world's coral reefs by 2010 and save them by 2020. And I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be part of this nonprofit organization as an apprentice in their upcoming two month voyage on the Great Barrier Reef.

This is no ordinary ship and words simply cannot begin to do justice to the magical experiences I've already had and all those that lay on my horizon. In my upcoming emails, as I become more familiar with the ropes myself, I will try my best to capture the three main aspects that comprise life aboard the RV Heraclitus; the Seamanship, the Science, and the Synegia (the lifestyle). I will quickly introduce them now by simply stating that the work is hard, the love is deep, and the culture is rich.

We are setting sail out of Cairns on Tuesday and have been busy getting the ship in "ship shape" for the next two months out at sea. We are first sailing to Ribbon Reef No. 3 in search of Minke Whales. We will then be setting our course due north towards Lizard Island in order to complete a study on the fringing reefs there. I'm not sure when I'll have access to the internet next, but when I do, you can be sure that I'll have 'more than you can shake a stick at' to share.

I hope you all can spare one minute of your time to visit and green light the video "The Canary is Dead". It is a fabulous 7 minute film produced aboard the RV Heraclitus by Orla Doherty (who I'm currently aboard with!) and it uses the Phoenix Islands as a case study to communicate the demise of coral reefs around the world. And if she gets enough green lights (through your help with online voting) her film will air on Current TV! You can watch this particular short film, as well as many more, by visiting

In closing, I just want to say that I find it suiting to be beginning my own voyage aboard this ship; like the RV Heraclitus setting sail out of the harbor into unchartered waters in pursuit of knowledge and adventure, so am I.

Until next time; take care and so will I,



photo of ship


June 19, 2006, Not another mass email....