SEA Currents: May 2017
Hello from your friendly neighborhood teaching assistant; feeling inspired and intimidated by the literary prowess of the ever-impressive Stanford undergraduates who have already contributed to this, the sole means by which we keep parents’ blood pressure down. We are once again underway, leaving behind the gem of an atoll on which I could wax poetic for hours had Hanna not already done so. So rather than paint the same word pictures the students have deftly crafted, I will instead attempt to spice up your reading material with perspectives from the most junior member of the teaching staff.
A special little moment from May 26th thrown in:
May 26th 2017, Time: 1730
Perspectives from aloft:
I started this blog after spending an afternoon looking at the ocean from a slightly different perspective than I’ve become accustomed to on board Mama Seamans.
“Greetings to our guests and their families around the world. May Jesus bless them all.” Nano Marsters calls with a smile from the front right corner of the Palmerston church. She wears a flowing orange dress and a white laced hat adorned with colorful flowers, through the window behind her, palm trees sway in the wind. The audience in attendance, about half from our ship and half from the island, filled the eight pew church on this sunny Sunday morning.
Today I woke up for morning watch anticipating a call of “Land ho!!” at some point in the following six hours. After three days at sea, today was the day we were to make it to our next island stop, a small island and coral atoll with, last we had heard, around 60 inhabitants. Nearing land, anticipation on the ship was high, as crew members lined the starboard rails, watching two small, metal boats belonging to local residents help the Robert C. Seamans navigate the reef and find a place to drop anchor.
It’s Wednesday or Thursday, I’m not really sure anymore, but as I come back to the Bobby C. after a day of wondering around Rarotonga and drinking nice coffee I learn that our ship must leave the harbor earlier than was planned. The reason was that our masts are too tall and they could disrupt the path of the airplanes coming in. This news was pretty startling, since most of our group was still wondering around the island; we were supposed to have two more hours on shore.
I haven’t written anything in this blog yet. It’s not for lack of content; our trip has been a fantastic opportunity with much to write home about, and some things I don’t think should ever leave the knowledge of the 21 students. I guess I wasn’t really inspired to write anything. Today, after we left Rarotonga last night and I was able to reconnect with the outside world, I think I found something to ponder and put to paper.
Despite its bad reputation among the student crew, dawn watch has provided me with some of my best memories on board. Most of these memories have come after I learned that a cup of coffee makes the 0100-0700 block significantly easier. During my second dawn watch en route to Ile Maria, my mind had some time to wander while I was scanning the horizon at the bow. The ship swaying beneath my feet, I realized, is not unlike horses or fire.
Congratulations to SEA alum and marine biologist Mike Gil for being selected as a TED Fellow. He’ll join a class of 21 change-makers from around the world to deliver a talk this August from the TEDGlobal stage in Arusha, Tanzania.
A National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, Davis, Mike studies human impact on marine ecosystems, and how social interactions among fish that eat harmful algae can counteract coral reef degradation.
As a science communicator, Mike started a science appreciation campaign. He creates videos and gives talks which he says are designed to “reveal the lesser-known side of science: an adventure, accessible to all….”
It was a wonderful last full day in NYC as we got to explore behind-the-scenes of the New York Aquarium on Coney Island. After meeting with Dr. Merry Camhi, director of the New York Seascape project, and sharing research and observations from our survey of the Hudson Canyon, we headed off on a tour of the upcoming shark exhibit’s construction site. We looked pretty sharp and safe in our hard hats and reflective vests.
Inexpresable. If I could describe today in one word, it would be inexpresable. Our day was filled with realizations and puffy eyes as we navigated through the busy waters of New York City harbor. Realizations that today was our last day underway aboard the Corwith Cramer, that these could be our last sweats on the braces, our final sail firls, dawn watch, lookout and helm time. It was with a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and sadness that we docked at 0800 in Brookline Harbor, knowing that this was not a port stop, that we would be departing with all of our things in less than two days.