EV Nautilus photo journal pt. 1 | Deep sea exploration in American Samoa

Nov 21, 2019Lifestyle, Travel

A long overdue photo journal from my time on the EV Nautilus a few months ago.

The Nautilus is a 64-meter exploration vessel that pushes the boundaries to explore the deep ocean that lead to other-worldly discoveries. It operates under the Ocean Exploration Trust in partnership with NOAA and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

I am incredibly stoked to say that I was able to join the 2019 expedition through my work at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. There were only 5 spots for an American Samoa science team during this research cruise, so I also feel insanely lucky that Ian and I both got to be part of the local crew…  how cool right?! There were two of us from National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, Ian was there on behalf of National Park Service, one person from Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources / Coral Reef Advisory Group, a marine science student from American Samoa Community College, and a University of Hawaii photogrammetry student.

I was on the first leg of the cruise which was an entire week from July 22 to July 29, 2019.

This is just Part 1: Scroll down to see photos from my first couple of days on the ship.

Disclaimer: all views, opinions, and grammatical errors my own.

My first night on the Nautilus was a Sunday night. We checked in at the Pago Pago Port earlier in the afternoon, and I hosted a FB Live stream on the ONMS Facebook Page, and we got to meet everyone and settled in to our bunks, because we’d be leaving super early the following morning.

This was my room on the ship. I walked in and was like, this is sooooo nice I think I’m in the wrong room. But nope, I was in the right room! And turns out, it’s actually the Robert Ballard’s stateroom!!! I got to sleep in his stateroom! He would be joining the next leg of the cruise, so it worked out that since I was only on the first leg, we’d swap out during the switch.

I didn’t have it all to myself though! It has a bunkbed with a full size bed on the bottom where I slept, and a twin size bed up top, where my bunkmate Ave slept.

View from the boat stern (and you can see the ROV Argus) at Pago Pago Harbor.

We spent all of Monday underway. Our first destination was Swains Island, which is part of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. It’s very remote, and actually is geographically a part of the Tokelau island chain, but politically part of American Samoa. We were underway for a little under a full 24-hours.

Having the first day as a transit only day was actually super helpful for people like me who chronically get seasick. I took my seasick meds and was just getting used to my sea legs.

The transit was a bit rough, so I was amazed to see the waters completely becalmed on the first evening.

Arrived at Swains island.

It’s crazy flat. It used to be a copra plantation, and there was a small village there long ago. Now it is uninhabited, though managed still by the family owners, the Jennings Family.

This is Peyton, he was the data logger for my science watch from 12am/pm to 4am/pm. He’s a gifted artist and in between all the work throughout the cruise, he made an awesome comic about his experience, and recently published a zine on it!

Our first ROV dive near Swains island. This is the ROV Hercules which has all the gadgets and gizmos that allow it to go where no man has gone before – literally – down to 4,000 meters, and takes photos, collects samples, and is tethered to the ship. It is controlled remotely by ROV pilots and feeds live video of what it sees directly to the public online at nautiluslive.org.

Deploying the ROVs takes a lot of work and manpower. It felt like such a special event each time we prepped for a dive. Everyone got to work to ensure all was prepared and troubleshooted so we could have a smooth dive. These ROVs are the prize of this ship, so it was always an event to watch it being deployed or retrieved, like a NASA mission for the deep sea.

Here’s Ian and the first dive watch team in the Nautilus control van. The control van is basically a mini NASA launch room lol. There are multiple screens that show all the different cameras broadcasted live from the two ROVs. The video engineers were excellent and got all the money shots.

Seeing this deep sea underwater landscape was so unreal. Just off Swains island, we saw a lot of pillow lava rocks.

Singing the Moana song here…

“see the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls meeeee”

The next dive watch shift – all women!


The next dive watch shift – all women!


Next up, my first dive watch, transit to Manu’a islands, and running into some weather!

See part 2 here.


Leave a Reply

Journal Lifestyle

Journal 5/52: Quote to Live By

Words to live by. These four words have resonated with me for nearly 5 years, and it continues to do...


Every day is Earth Day! Which is why I wanted to share some things I’m doing as I progress towards...
Create Sustainable Living

Look What I Made: Zero Waste Bifold Card Wallet

So it’s currently midnight and I’d normally be in bed already buuuut I felt the urge to craft and make...
Moments Photo Diaries

Film strip moments today

Grateful to be working from home. The rain on the mountains. Officer Scruffles' all cozy. These film strip moments.

Sessions: Toafā Te‘o Grad Portraits

Quick snaps of this beauty, Toafā Te'o, back in May to commemorate her high school graduation. Congrats Toafā!

Last month, hiking down to Fagatele Bay for work with Claire, Lee Ellen, our very own Maui, who shared some...

Ian's got the best laugh

Daily dive


Power outage

We could hear our neighbors' kids playing igave'a (hide and seek) in the dark, giggling and scurrying around the property...

The trash we picked up on the beach and along the way back. Excited for another year taking on the...

Actually though…

ok good night! (image credit: Pinterest)

Photo Journal: South to North Island, New Zealand

Sharing another long forgotten photo journal recovered from my drafts folder. I'm slowly clearing that out, and so please don't...
Lifestyle Moments

How are you?

Hi hello how are ya? But no really... how are you doing? Hanging in there? To be honest, I've been...
Photo Diaries

Scruff in the yellow sun

Some pics I took one evening in October while Officer Scruffles sat perched on the railing looking like a cute...
Lifestyle Photo Diaries

Photo documenting the silver linings of my life in the time of COVID

Despite the harsh reality of what's happening around the world, these little snippets are my silver linings that keep me...

Life Lately: Weekend Blurb

Weekend blurbs and random thoughts... Who sings this? Ian at Rose Atoll. I don't have my camera right now. Midnight...

One of those back-of-the-pick-up-truck-sunset-chasing-date-nights <3
Photo Diaries Travel

What I’m looking forward to in the near future

Do you ever get so excited for a trip you can barely sleep in the nights leading up to your...

Sleepy Scruff

Napping in the studio, one of his favorite nap spots

LIFE: This is MY Blog

Life is happening. I have been contemplating whether I should post my personal life stories on my blog, or whether...