Geeking out about the New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration because…

Geeking out about the New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration because…

Earlier this week, I got an email that the New Frontiers in Ocean Exploration supplement book to the Oceanography magazine was released. This supplement provides a closer look at the innovation and research in ocean exploration, and is available in printed and online format.

I first read these supplements to prepare for my first experience last summer with the OET Nautilus deep sea research cruise. 


There is a wealth of information out there that I never knew existed like remotely operated vehicles, discovery of new never before seen or observed species, and ocean floor mapping. I was fortunate to join OET Nautilus as part of the research cruise with National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. It was a tremendous experience; one I will definitely never forget. I learned so much and gained a deeper appreciation for my ocean. BUT the reason why I’m sharing all of this though is actually because…

They published TWO of my photos!!!

And I’m listed as a contributing author!!!


This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m personally so thrilled and honored to be included in such a highly regarded science publication. I’m not a super hardcore marine scientist by any means, but being involved with this first-rate innovation and research has truly inspired me to stay hungry for more learning opportunities and experiences in the field of science. There’s more to explore!

You can click the cover image of the booklet or this link here to view the entire publication online. There’s loads of brilliant information on what we explored here in American Samoa, the active hydrothermal plume at Vailulu`u, the search for the Samoan Clipper plane crash, plus so much more in cruises with other marine sanctuaries and ocean exploration partners.

I’m sharing screenshots from just a few pages of the magazine that I was especially stoked to see because it had my name on it – eeeek!

Two of my photos were included in the magazine–and look–you can see Ian (representing the American Samoa science team on this dive watch) on page 12, busy taking notes beside Expedition Leader Christopher Roman on his right, and data loggers Peyton and Sunna on his left. I’m stoked they gave me photo credit and spelled my name correctly haha. The other photo is of our local science team Ave, Georgia, and Jessica, and data logger, Rebecca, who were the on 4-to-8 watch, after mine. Both photos were taken in the control van during an active dive watch when the ROVs Hercules and Argus were deployed. 

Here’s the spread highlighting the expedition with National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Initially, I didn’t realize I was going to be included in the list of authors, and when I found out, I was like, wow this is SO cool! And then I realized Dr. Robert Ballard’s name was also on the list, and I was like ‘EVEN COOLER!’ I’m still blushing just at how cool it is… like I don’t deserve to be on here, but I’m so appreciative. Please excuse how lame I’m being. I’m just so excited about it. I owe huge thanks to Dr. Mareike Sudek (lead scientist and author for the NMSAS section) for advocating for me to be part of the expedition as a science communicator. I was fully expecting only scientists to get invited, but this just goes to show there’s opportunity in STEM for anyone with a passion and a willingness to learn.

Ok ok enough, thanks for reading!




Part 3 from my photo journal with Ocean Exploration Trust’s E/V Nautilus; conducting deep sea research with a bunch of rad humans and technology to discover the undiscovered around my home waters, and the National Marine Sanctuaries of American Samoa.

July to August 2019.

Our ROV dives at Swains island were cut short because the weather was starting to turn. 

The swells grew and winds picked up speed. The ROVs were recovered, and our expedition leader and ship captain made the decision to sail overnight towards the leeward side of the Manu’a islands to continue our dives there.

Woke up to this view of Ta’u island, taken from the monkey deck.

The science teams were shuffling around to create a new dive plan. Meanwhile, work continued with live telepresence communications.

A really cool unique thing about the Nautilus is their live telepresence outreach capabilities. Not only are the dives broadcasted 24/7 to the public online at, we were also able to connect with people all over the world on a more personal level. Led by science communications fellows, we engaged with classrooms, museums, auditoriums, summer school groups, a university in the Azores, and of course with our very own communities back home who tuned in at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center. 

 Because of the time difference, we had to schedule these telepresence interactions at all hours of the day.

This one wasn’t too bad at 6:00 am local time… me and Samantha Wishnak, the Nautilus‘ Communications Manager.

(Funny side note: turns out that Sam and Ian share the same friend groups in California, like they’re best friends are the same people! This reminded me that despite how vast the ocean is, this marine science community is close knit and interconnected.)

The rugged mountainscape of Ofu and Olosega islands, connected by a bridge.

We had quite a bit of downtime between ROV dives and transiting from location to location, so a good group of us passed the time watching movies, reading, and playing card games. I taught them how to play Samoan suipi, and camp, and it was honestly so fun hanging out like this, disconnected yet connected at the same time.

Re-deployed the ROVs Hercules and Argus, and kept our fingers crossed for a long and interesting dive.

Here’s our expedition lead, Dr. Christopher Roman, manning the robot arm that lifts the Hercules for deployment and retrievals.

After one of the many dives, here’s the crew retrieving Argus and Hercules yet again.

In the wet lab with data logger leader, Suna.

We celebrated her birthday out at sea with cake and some of the crew made a crown of copper wiring for her to dawn.

The wet lab is also broadcasted live via when geological and biological samples are collected and taken in to be preserved and prepared to be sent to scientists for analysis. Scientists all over the world can request specific samples for research. This allows experts in various fields to share their knowledge and inform what we find.

Back in the control van for my last dive watch from 12:00 am to 4:00 am with the best shift of #BenthicBuddies (in my biased opinion, lol). Our crew includes: Hanae (co-lead scientist), me (AS scientist), Peyton (data logger), Anthony (video engineer), Brian (science communications fellow),  Lily (navigator), Summer (ROV Argus pilot), and Scott (ROV Hercules pilot).

You can check out the rest of the Nautilus crew (and read our bios) from the American Samoa expedition here:


EV Nautilus Photo Journal Pt. 2 | Deep Sea Exploration in American Samoa

EV Nautilus Photo Journal Pt. 2 | Deep Sea Exploration in American Samoa

Part 2 of my photo journal on the E/V Nautilus.

Deep sea research cruise in the waters of American Samoa. July to August 2019.

View of Swains island from the vessel. 

The full buffet 3x each day was a luxury. Living large on the high seas!

Rocking our no-spill Nautilus mugs in front of Swains island. So happy.

Back in the control van during my science watch. 

Samoan sunrises make me swoon.

It’s always an event when the ROVs are getting deployed. It’s pretty incredible to see technology in action to discover the undiscovered.

The American Samoa science team representing!

Ian, me, Georgia, and Hanae.

I feel so lucky to do what I do. And working alongside my fiance is the cherry on the top.

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

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

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

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.

Love it when my work days look like this

Love it when my work days look like this

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Fagatele Bay with a team of ocean management agencies.

I love being able to take my office outside and have field days for work (and I love seeing my fiancé, Captain Moffitt).

A new “Class III” scientific buoy was recently deployed within the national marine sanctuary, making it highest level of coral reef monitoring provided by NOAA in the southern hemisphere. The scientific buoy collects water quality information and measures a variety of parameters in the ocean, such as pH and temperature, which are both very important contributors to the health of our vibrant coral reef ecosystem.

It’s super cool, and the data is live online on the PacIOOS website here.

The scientists aboard the NPS vessel MV Moana were practicing water sampling techniques for the monitoring project, and I volunteered to get photos for a NOAA Research media write up. I jumped in the water and snapped a few photos with a Canon SL1 and Ikelite housing.

I’m stoked that they used one of my photos for the article!

You can find the article about the new scientific buoy here:

Beach Camping in American Samoa

Beach Camping in American Samoa

Growing up my whole life on an island, I thought it was a silly thing to pitch a tent and sleep outside for fun when basically my whole life felt like camping… because (1) I can still remember the way-back-when years that I’d fall asleep to loud cricket noises and mosquito bites, had to light candles to find a flashlight in the frequent brown-outs just to navigate my way to the toilet in an outhouse, and had to use a hose for non-optional shivering cold showers;

and (2) it didn’t sound like fun unless it was the annual summer youth camp right on the church lawn with all our friends in those formative years and we would sneak in to tents and use shaving cream, toothpaste, lipstick and whatever else we could find to smear over anyone who fell asleep, friend or not, and giggle about it all night like crazy ninjas in a game of ‘you snooze you lose’… buuuut I digress.

LOL and wow @ the memories.

So anyway, when I went beach camping for the first time in 2014 at the secluded Fogama’a Bay, I had a blast and my mind was forever changed. Now the only type of camping I like is the ones where I can wake up and immediately jump in the water. And here we are 5 years later on my birthday weekend. Ian invited a few friends and told me early in the week that we were going camping and I was stoked! I packed on Thursday night so we could hike down right after work on Friday.

What TO Pack for beach camping:

/ BACKPACK: Deuter’s Groden 30L

/ TENT: Teton Sports’ Mountain Ultra 2 

/ SLEEP STUFF: Therm-a-rest sleeping pad, sock blanket, & pillowcase (stuffed with dirty laundry and used as a pillow) 

/ CLOTHES: Lavalava, 2 bikinis, sleep shirt, comfy shorts, long sleeve denim shirt, Teva Sanborn sandals

/ TOILETRIES: Reef-safe sunblock; Natrapel bug spray; bamboo toothbrush & toothpaste

/  CAMERA: Canon 60D with 24mm f/2.8 in a Neoprene camera sleeve (& Ziploc bag to keep it extra dry)

/ BOOK: Nook Glowlight 3 e-reader, freshly loaded with this month’s book club read

/ FOOD: Takeya 32oz water bottle; canned beans, chicken, & soup, potatoes; chips; cheese; boiled eggs

/ EXTRAS: Sunglasses, iPhone, Gabba Goods waterproof powerbank & lantern, Petzl Pixa1 headlamp, machete, lighter

Fogama’a – National Marine Sanctuary

Fogama`a Crater (also known as Larson’s Cove) was, as its name suggests, once a volcanic crater that is now a beach surrounded by steep cliffs. It is one of six National Marine Sanctuary sites in American Samoa, located by Vaitogi village. It’s not easy to explain precise directions if you aren’t familiar with the landmarks, so basically you drive to Vaitogi towards the cliffs, kindly ask one of the families if you can park on their property, and then hike down for about 15 minutes and through some banana plantations… and then hot tip hold on to your jaws because it will drop as you descend the stairs landing to the beach. On most days, you’ll find yourselves to be the only visitors to the cove, and it will feel like your personal slice of paradise. Definitely bring your snorkeling gear to scope out the rich biodiversity that this National Marine Sanctuary site has to offer. And snacks, lots of snacks, because you’ll work up an appetite on this full day adventure.  





Check the weather before choosing a day to camp.

Pack a light bag with the necessities.

Find a good spot with an ocean view to set up camp.

Collect driftwood and kindling to start fire early.

Pack dinner food wrapped in foil to warm over fire.

Take pictures if you’re a nostalgic person like me.

Clean up around the beach and campsite before you go.




Go without preparing for unexpected weather changes.

Bring anything you’re not willing to carry back up.

Wait until dark to pitch your tent/hammock.

Underestimate the time and effort it takes to make fire.

Forget to plan a meal for breakfast the next morning.

Let taking pictures stop you from enjoying every moment.

Leave any trash behind, even if it isn’t yours.



birthday thoughts: a quick personal Life Update

Wow. I’m 27 years old… Not that age really really matters, but it’s just a little nuts to think that it wasn’t very long ago at all that I was just getting out of high school, got my very first camera, started my first photo blog on Tumblr, and went off to university in the mainland fresh off the boat. Now I’m all done with school (for now, I think), settling in to my third full time job since uni, I have the ultimate best boyfriend in the whole wide world, a pup and cat, and I’m back home on the island I grew up on, but living it in a completely new way. Nuts. But I’m very very happy about it all! My life is 100% incredible, and my heart is full of gratitude every single day… I even have a daily gratitude journal to attest to it. This year is already turning out to be flippin’ sweet! My friends and family have made my birthday week sooo memorable and fun. Like this camping trip. And movie night on a boat. And karaoke at my parents’ house. And a surprise birthday party by the sweetest neighbors and friends. Plus, I have so much to look forward to… a big event that I’m coordinating at work, a work trip to the east coast, a new web project with awesome clients, OMG–and I’m going to Tahiti this summer and we’re chartering a sailboat with Ian’s parents(!!!), and then later this summer… you guys will nottt believe it; I’m going on my first research cruise aboard the EV Nautilus which, if you know, you know that this is so so so exciting! I’m stoked beeeyond, and I also need more sleep! So I’ll leave it at that for now. That was a lot of updates lol. But you have to understand, I’m so giddy just typing this out. This is my life right now… what? Blest.