One month on board the Tangaroa – 2024 NIWA Ambassador
June 13, 2024

The day before we returned to Wellington I saw the mainland for the first time in 1 month. We cruised up the south island and past Kaikoura, watching sun rays filtering through clouds – a welcome light after a stormy morning. A pod of ~30 common dolphins swam around the boat’s bulbous bow (I learnt many new words on the ship) and we watched them for hours as they dove and jumped above the water. This was such a special moment to mark the end of our voyage, and one I will remember for a long time. 

Brianna Marvin and Clemence Williams – BLAKE NIWA Tangaroa Ambassadors for 2023

Being aboard a ship for a month feels a little bit like being in a groundhog day film; you end up building a really consistent routine that differs so much from your usual day to day it feels like another life. I worked on the day shift, waking up at 3 am (being a night owl I was surprised how quickly I got used to this), having breakfast in mess hall (or on a few unlucky days, going to the lab first), a cycle of lab work & relaxing in the tv room (& taking naps in a beanbag if you’re me), lunch, chatting to the night shift when they started at 3 pm, dinner, sleep… repeat.

This routine was also broken up by shadowing or helping scientists on their specific projects, getting fresh air on the deck or monkey island (the very top of the boat above the bridge, where on good days you could set up a lawn chair for a few enjoyable hours – also a great spot for a DMC), chatting to crew about how the ship works & where we currently were, photographing birds, an occasional sauna (IKR?!), and working on personal BLAKE content (mostly my spoken word poem which you can watch on Insta @outdoors.w.clemence). All in all, this groundhog day effect kinda created this bubble in which I lived, not really perceiving our position in the world or the passage of time – we were just existing on a big blue sea.

In this sense, the voyage’s impact as a whole only hit me when I came off the ship & could reflect back from a different perspective. For a few days the land still swayed below me and I was glad to no longer smell of fish, but I also missed seeing the amazing people I had met on the boat & participating in the science. This is what makes such experiences so memorable – ups & downs, a contrast between the unique and incredible opportunities offered by this ambassadorship & the challenges of working at sea.

I’ll start with the challenges: being super seasick on my first night (and not acquiring sea legs at any point), learning that a 70 m long ship starts to feel small pretty quickly, over stimulating environments (engine noise, constant motion) as a neurodivergent person, overcoming my mild fear of open water, long shifts 3 am – 3 pm, again smelling VERY fishy, missing home, my big pile of books sitting unread because of the motion sickness.

The great parts: meeting people & hearing their stories, the opportunity of knowing scientists in my field, building tons of new skills & learning about fisheries science, the supportive atmosphere on the ship & encouragement to look after ourselves, seeing really strange ocean species!! So many sharks, blobfish, squid and so on!! The food (I was well known for getting 2/3 servings each night), seeing albatross for the first time & falling in love with the little cape petrel, passing through the Chatham Islands… and many more!

Though being at sea was not always easy, I’m so thankful to have had the chance to adventure and work on the RV Tangaroa as a BLAKE ambassador. It was truly unforgettable & has pushed me to seek experiences outside my comfort zone and field of knowledge.


  • Clemence Williams – BLAKE NIWA Tangaroa Ambassador