Today we started early for good reason. We are incredibly fortunate to be traveling with a group of cultural specialists, including Tua Pittman and Jennifer Kingsley. Tua and Jennifer are leading a new program to bring more Polynesian representatives on board as we travel through their home region of the South Pacific. Through this program, we have three other cultural specialists, Kura Happ, Ebony Peeni, and Matahi Tutavae. They have all shared an incredible wealth of knowledge throughout our journey. On this particular morning, Tua and Matahi hosted a navigation workshop. We learned about the use of star constellations in traditional Polynesian navigation. It was well worth the early rise to watch the sun come up over the horizon and learn how these methods were used to cross the Pacific Ocean. Tua and Matahi have firsthand knowledge.

After this, we had a fantastic breakfast that flowed into a formal lecture from none other than Tua and Matahi. Their very intriguing presentation left us wanting to hear more about the intriguing subject of traditional navigation and how it is applied in the modern day.

Before lunch, we enjoyed a fantastic presentation from Kura and Ebony on Kura’s experience on a modern voyaging canoe. Ebony also spoke about canoes and informed us about the significance of the modern-day war canoe.

It was a day full of presentations with hotel manager Fran giving us a behind the scenes look at life on board National Geographic Orion for the crew.

The last presentation of the day took place before a wonderful dinner. The topic was “Coral Reef Ecology,” and the presentation was delivered by undersea specialist Chris Cook, who is incredibly knowledgeable, handsome, and funny but still manages to do all of this with an equal balance of humbleness…a true gift to this expedition.