By Jade Hyde.
A Seven Seas Voyage for the purposes of fish conservation studies, mapping new dive sites and a team of explorers capturing Psycho-Anthropologist, Dr. Lawrence Blair in his element in the archipelago of Indonesia.
This unique, purpose-driven trip is being written about while still aboard and in the moment with this outstanding vessel and crew known as “The Seven Seas”. When it comes to doing custom expeditions such as ours, this is the name synonymous in people’s minds for such an adventurous undertaking.
Aboard is a unique assembly of talented individuals making up two special teams with their own objectives.
The first is a team capturing Dr. Lawrence Blair from the Ring of Fire saga, (and other productions) on film as he moves through his favorite place in the world. He is examining a range of interesting subjects rooted in both science, mysticism and traditional stories of the people; humans and wildlife in their natural environments, ranging from crocodile whisperers/hunters, fishermen and their tales of the giant squids of the deep, and more broadly discussing the symbiotic relationships of all types of marine life.
The second team is NGO YKAN, a subsidiary of The Nature Conservancy, with decades of research in Indonesia; they are working passionately in their endeavors towards conserving Indonesia’s underwater life. Through creating fish protection reserves and working with local fishers, they are taking actions that will help create a sustainable future of fishing in the outer islands of Indonesia, thus conserving this irreplaceable resource for the future.
Both these teams are led by the legendary and ever-enthusiastic captain Mark Heighes who has been fascinated by, and exploring these distant corners of the ring of fire his whole life. He is here to share the many hidden charms of the islands and its people. Also aboard is an award-winning underwater photographer who is beautifully documenting our journey underwater and above by drone.
As I write, we are now on another leg of the voyage cruising over the legendary Banda Sea toward the historically rich Spice Islands.
No land is in sight as we steam through the night in over 4000 meter deep and unexplored waters. At sunrise tomorrow we should catch our first glimpse of the stunning Gunung Api (“Fire mountain”) that suddenly looms way above the sea as if a protector over the Banda Islands and also confirmed to the early Spice Traders that their year-long sea voyage from Europe in search of fame and discovery was almost in their grasp.
As a fortunate guest, assisting and witness to this current Seven Seas journey, I cannot help feeling a sense of wonder and excitement imagining what those early trips were like. I also appreciate how high the risks were, as those trips often cost many crew lives. Which, also makes me more grateful than ever for this journey, as we travel now in luxurious cabins and eat delicious meals and fruit platters prepared by the cooks on board.
All 15 days were every inch packed full of activities ranging from daily scuba diving to places such as fish aggregation spots to count species to swimming with critically endangered leather back turtles. All the while we aimed to professionally document everything to measure again against further research in the future.
The Seven Seas with her special guests who are called to sail her, continues to inspire and support like-minded, purpose-driven people and their efforts, through their expertise in media, conservation and excellence in hospitality.