SEA Currents: Apr 2016
It’s JWO season here aboard Mama Seamans, and that means students are scurrying to and fro with notebooks and sheaves of scrap paper in hand, trying to track down a mate or the elusive JWO Sheet Anchor binder to study up on everything from gybing to reporting to Jay. (Who knew turning around and talking could be such precise and exacting tasks?)
On Robert C. Seamans, we make a habit of dangling a fishing line at the ship’s stern when the condition and weather allows. Though the ocean looks empty from above, given for the occasional seagulls and petrels, we were able to fish out a myriad of sea creatures for our meals.
Greetings from the Cramer!
Is it Friday already? It seems like just yesterday we were leaving Puerto Rico. Time is flying by! Today my watch stood morning watch, bright and early at 0700. Marina and I started extracting eel larvae DNA at the start of watch this morning. I don’t think I can say that I have ever done science as early as that! But the routine of watch rotation seems to have become very natural and I almost don’t even notice when I am still up at 0300 for dawn watch.
Hey Everyone!!! We have made it to the North Sargasso Sea. It has been science all day today for me. A-Watch (my watch team) started our day of with a presentation on the coral reefs that are present in Bermuda from our visiting professor, Dr. Robbie Smith. I also got to work in the lab this morning during my watch, we completed a 100 count of the midnight Neuston net tow, and I got to do my first morning deployment of our CTD and Neuston net.
We are two days into our Junior Watch Officer/ Junior Lab Officer (JWO/JLO) phase today. A mixture of nervous and excited feelings have been circulating as we prepare to take control of the daily operations of the ship and the lab. It’s been really exciting to see myself and my classmates step into this role and see how we all support each other and work together to figure things out.
It’s been well reported in this blog and elsewhere: vast quantities of plastic and microplastic debris (pieces smaller than 5 mm) have been observed and sampled in oceans around the world. But accurately measuring it, on a global scale, is still a major challenge.
SEA’s Dr. Kara Lavender Law, Research Professor of Oceanography, is doing just that. Working with colleagues at other institutions, she’s employing a rigorous statistical approach to standardize a global dataset and thus better estimate the size and scope of the problem – and gauge the danger it poses to marine life.
Hello from the crew of the Cramer! Today has been incredibly productive (and slightly depressing). During the twilight hours, students and staff were efficiently picking away at the catch hauled in the sampling nets that we tow next to the boat. Unfortunately, they counted a record number of plastic pieces for this cruise, a total of 156.
We are now edging near French Polynesia. Having entered the Sub-Tropics, the crew has been enjoying the first day of hot humid air. Alpha Watch took the deck this morning with negligible winds, and near glassy seas. Around us danced motley grey clouds teasing us with promise of winds, only to envelope the ship in a uniform misty rain. By mid-morning these misting clouds had burned off to reveal a clear blue sky and bright hot sun. Everyone on deck liberally applied sunscreen to their fair skins that have recently been so used to cooler latitudes.
I woke up at 0600 to Charlotte’s soothingly sweet voice quietly repeating my name. I slid open my curtain of my bunk to see her face peering in with the soft light of dawn. She proceeded to tell me every detail of the weather and what I should anticipate for my watch. I slowly made my way up to deck, as I always do in the mornings, to find that it was quite cloudy and drizzling. I didn’t hesitate to put on my foul weather jacket to prepare for my 6 hour watch.
Hello to all on land and greetings from the Southern Sargasso Sea! As we head into our second week here on the Cramer, we are all getting into our routines and keeping very busy with our work. We are working around the clock on our watches to take care of the Cramer as she carries us north while deploying our science gear and collecting samples for our research.