SEA Currents: megafauna
Stanford@SEA: Three Sheets to the Wind!
Stanford@SEA 2017 is on the move once again. At 2213 Friday evening, after 38 hours at anchor to the lee of Isle Maria, the ship’s company hoisted the Bobby C.‘s anchor and got underway for our next stop - Rarotonga!
The weather is cooperating. We are finally being pushed by the west-blowing trade winds predicted for this voyage, and our estimated time of arrival to Rarotonga is 0900 Monday morning.
Dolphins, Whales and 21st Birthdays
What a day on the Cramer! This is about to be a long blog, but I deemed it necessary to try to capture all that this day had to offer, so stick with me. Though every day has its excitement here on board, today was something to remember. We spent the day in the Hudson Canyon, the largest submarine canyon along the US Atlantic Coast, rivaling the depth and scale of the Grand Canyon, just southeast of New York City.
We got the opportunity to participate in the New York Seascape program, a program working to connect New York residents to their nearby ocean.
Boat Bucket List
You have heard about the experiences from all of the students so now I’m going to give you my experience from the perspective of a staff member here aboard the Cramer.
When I told my friends and family that I was going to live on a boat for six weeks back in 2014 they thought I was crazy.
Sweet Life on Deck
We have officially left the coastal waters of the Bahamas, and have entered the high seas, en route to Bermuda. Today was another eventful day onboard the Cramer; standing watch, collecting samples, conducting genetic extractions/analyses, and setting sails. During the allocated “class time,” the crew divided into watch teams (A, B, and C) and set all nine of the Cramer’s sails.
Feeling pretty tropical
Just one of the things I never imagined I would truthfully say: This morning around 0330 Sammi and I spotted land for the first time in twenty-seven days. We were standing on the science deck after deploying the Neuston net at 0121 (later than usual but science never sleeps). I noticed an amorphous darkness on the horizon directly in front of where we were looking and questioned my own eyesight. Although it was dark outside, the mass appeared too dark to be a cloud and definitely not part of the ocean that we’ve become so accustomed to looking at.
Having a Whale of a Time
“Whale!” exclaimed our 3rd Assistant Scientist Helen Duffel as we all stood lined up on the science deck on the port side of the ship learning how to deploy the Nueston net, one of our many ocean sampling tools. Although some of us, myself included, only managed to catch a glimpse of the spray from its blowhole our 1st mate Scott would later explain that it was most likely a Sperm whale based on the fact that its spray was at an angle and that it came up for air at least 20 times that he saw.
Birds, Beets, Bioluminescent Dolphins
Okay, so I don’t think we’ve actually had any beets while on board the ship yet, but I thought this title was pretty clever. Today is not my scheduled time to blog but the Sunday slots are open for anyone to sign up! After this afternoon’s bird extravaganza, it became a perfect opportunity share some photos and write about it! It comes to no surprise that I would talk about seeing birds in my first post!
Moments, Memories, Meaning
Always, always, always I find myself struggling to find the right words to wrap up a voyage. Inherently it is an unsolvable problem, a hopeless effort to address a seemingly simple question - ‘So, how was the trip?’, which in truth is a prelude to an overwhelming sense of confusion.
Where Oh Where are the Whales?
After arriving on deck to begin afternoon watch I learned, from a reliable source, that we were sailing in a whale sanctuary. To some this fact would be described as “cool” or “exciting”, but to me this information was life altering. I love whales. I admit it. Maybe a little too much, but I have dreamed of one day seeing these majestic creatures up close and personal. Yet the sea, at least what was visible on the surface, was absent of whales.
Taking Time to Listen
If I had to come up with a personal slogan it would be “take time to listen.” As a marine mammal scientist and acoustician at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, just down the street from SEA Semester, it is my job to take time to listen to the ocean and use listening as a tool to learn about marine animals including marine mammals. But in my time interacting with people of all ages through various outreach and teaching opportunities, I have realized that too often people don’t take time to listen and that this important part of our environment can easily be lost or forgotten.