SEA Currents: Nov 2016
This October, the students of SEA Semester S-269 (Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems) voyaged through Polynesia, interacting with local communities just one month before the release of the Disney feature film “Moana.” Students spent two days with the people of Nakorova village, on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji, learning traditional sailing from the same people who advised on and inspired the magnificent sailing scenes depicted in “Moana.” Our gracious host, Jiujiua “Angel” Bera, is featured in a short Moana featurette.
We have turned to the west! Since leaving the Canaries, we have been working our way generally to the south and west, plowing our way through the Canary Current that flows down the northwest coast of Africa, crossing through the corner of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre that lies in the center of North Atlantic, and now we find ourselves in a new “general locale” (as we call it in lab!): the North Equatorial Current. This current, along with the easterly to northeasterly trade winds will (knock on wood) take us across the 15th parallel of northern latitude on our way to the Caribbean.
A few days ago we shifted into phase 2, otherwise known as shadow phase or apprentice phase, where one student on each watch shadows the mate or scientist to learn what they do and how they make decisions. Yesterday we rotated watches, the students and interns stayed together while the mates shifted to a different watch. This was accomplished by having the Captain and Chief Scientist stand the morning watch to push the mates and scientists back 1 watch.
Sailors have a heightened sense of awareness to the world around them. If there is one thing I observed aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, it is that our maritime world is in fluid motion. Winds veer and back, the celestial sphere scans the sky, the ship inhales and exhales with each swell, and the compass sways as we alter our heading from NW to SE.
“Ship. Shipmates. Self.” This is the sailor’s mantra, an old adage of the sea passed down by generations of seamen who were able to make it ashore. I suspect that crews who did not heed these words to take care of their one home were not as fortunate. Without the collective help from each of our 29 members aboard the Cramer, we would not have made it this far along our journey, officially having passed the halfway point across the Atlantic!
Recent SEA graduates Maddie Taylor (C-264) and Corey Wrinn (C-257), and former SEA Associate Professor (and SEA alumna, C-142) Dr. Amy Siuda (now at Eckerd College) attended a meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) in Grand Cayman earlier this month to present the results of their research related to drifting Sargassum.
The GCFI is a forum that brings together scientific, government, and commercial stakeholders to share scientific findings to better understand and manage the marine ecosystem of the Caribbean and Gulf region.
Intelligence grows when moving from the known-predictable to the unknown-unpredictable. Living and working with 33 different people is definitely a brand new experience that I expect is shaping and molding my intelligence. For the past few days I have been wondering what brought all of us together and the answer I have come up with is the ocean.
As a Dane on an American vessel in the middle of the Atlantic you get so many great and funny cultural experiences. Last night, celebrating Thanksgiving and 1st Advent at the same time, was so much fun and I must admit that I felt a bit extra tired when I woke up today. Maybe that was why the heat hit me so hard. A thousand degrees at least. That was what I expected when I looked at the thermometer for yet another hourly.
In case you’re wondering why there was no mention of Thanksgiving last Thursday, it’s because we’re celebrating today instead. With all the galley preparations that needed to happen, it was much easier to coordinate everything on a Sunday when there’s no formal class to break up the afternoon. Watch rotations never stop though, so even Thanksgiving dinner is served twice to get everyone fed. There was one change for the special day: the first seating of dinner started at 1800 instead of 1820 to give us a little more time to enjoy the food and fellowship.
The day dawned with some squall lines, but quickly cleared for C Watch after we took the deck and lab. In lab, we finished some batch nutrient processing; getting data from all of our stations so far in one big push of chemistry and spectrophotometry that requires pausing the usual deployment schedule. I celebrated with Arthur and John when we ran the last sample in lab, signifying the end of 16 hours of intense labor for the scientists and students.The day dawned with some squall lines, but quickly cleared for C Watch after we took the deck and lab. In lab, we finished some batch nutrient processing; getting data from all of our stations so far in one big push of chemistry and spectrophotometry that requires pausing the usual deployment schedule. I celebrated with Arthur and John when we ran the last sample in lab, signifying the end of 16 hours of intense labor for the scientists and students.