Pitcairn Islands Expedition: Top Sunset & Cloud Photos

One of the best traditions that developed on the Pitcairn Islands expedition was to gather on the top of the aft deck at sunset and toast the sun as it sank into the sea.

After hours of scuba diving to count fish or film sharks and coral reefs, or hours of staving of sea-sickness as we traveled from island to island, it was a colorful and invigorating way to close out the day. Amid the oos and ahhs you’d hear numerous cameras clicking away as various team members tried to capture brief moments in the ever-changing show.

Now that the research is complete and everyone has returned home safely, looking at these photos brings up a few final thoughts:

  • A lot of the beauty of the sunsets was in the way they constantly changed. As we think about the people on Pitcairn working to create a positive and sustainable future, it’s good to remember that change is similar. It’s not some fixed state you can jumped to, it’s a process, and the process is itself exciting and rewarding.
  • As the light would change, areas of cloud that once looked flat and white would take on colors and reveal themselves to be made of many different cloud types at vastly different distances and elevations. This is true for the ocean as well; many people see it at first as just one vast homogeneous pool. If we can shed the right light on it though, people will more easily be able to see how intricate its structures are and how different it is in all its corners.
  • Even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, after sunset it was often hard to see a lot of stars because the lights of the ship drowned them out. This was a stark reminder that even when our human trappings don’t have a major effect on the rest of the world, they can still alter our view of the world, determining what we’re able to see.

Finally, just like the sun rises again every time it sets, this entire expedition can be relived any time you like. Explore the backlog of blogs below, and spread the word about the beautiful world hiding below the waves of the remote Pitcairn Islands.


More From the Pitcairn Islands Expedition

Top Fish Photos From Pitcairn Island

Photo Gallery: Strange and Beautiful Algae

Photo Gallery: Oeno, the Kingdom of the Groupers

Remnants of a Lost Civilization

Hiking to Christian’s Cave

Rock Climbing for Rock Art

Mike Fay’s Pitcairn Journal

Account of a Typical Morning

Watch Slideshow and Interview With Enric Sala From the Field

Read All Blogs



Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.