SEA Currents: Marine Biodiversity & Conservation
Today began with (vegan) pancakes from our amazing steward Sabrina. She has been feeding us non-stop with gourmet meals and snacks six times a day, there is more food here than I’ve ever seen in my life. After an amazing breakfast, my watch (B-watch) was ready to take the deck. Half of us went to tend the sails and ship while the others, Anna and myself went to lab with our scientist leader Grayson. When I walked into lab, there were pantyhose filled with styrofoam cups we had decorated, hanging around the lab disco ball.
0000 May 3rd 2017 — My watch beeps. It is midnight. I have been standing as lookout at the bow for one hour now. I look down into the water that breaks beneath me. It is speckled with bioluminescence that glimmers like sparks deflecting off of the hull. I look up into the sky, a bright crescent moon rests above me. I realize how thankful I am to be on watch on such a beautiful night.
My day started and ended under the stars. The day technically began watching a triple stack of nets go down to 100 meters for one last sampling from the South Sargasso Sea. As Marie mentioned before, there’s a certain amount of coordination (which we all sometimes lack) required to set up a wire deployment at night, hoping you don’t knock anything overboard or trip over anything. Even with these difficulties, there is something about science under the stars that is pretty unreal.
We reached our 1,000th cumulative mile of our journey during early dawn this morning while the spray was whipping over the bow and the only light on deck was from the stars. We were taking a slight diversion South through the South Sargasso Sea in hopes of obtaining more samples of Sargassum and possibly the form we have not found much of on this voyage:
Another day has come and gone aboard the Cramer. I can’t believe we’ve been at sea for almost two weeks already! It was a warm and beautiful sunny day, although a strong twenty knot wind producing six to eight foot waves had some feeling unwell. Our watch group (B) was supposed to undergo a training for going aloft onto the fore mast today, but the rough sea state prevented us from doing so. I spent the afternoon in lab with Maggie and Grayson, our assistant scientist, counting microplastics and identifying zooplankton and Sargassum fauna from our morning station Neuston tow.
We have now entered stage two: The Shadow Phase. After nearly two weeks of sea life immersion aboard the Corwith Cramer we are finally beginning to learn the behind the scenes details that our Watch Officers and Assistant Scientists do every day. On deck this morning from the start of my 0700 watch, I followed around our mate Finn, who began to show me what was needed to keep the CC running safe and smooth.
Greetings land dwellers!
Today has been a historic day on the Corwith Cramer. Today, during our designated class time, 16 students competed to prove their seaworthiness in the famous challenge appropriately deemed the Line Chase. After weeks of fumbling with ropes, afraid to meet the disappointing gazes of our mates and scientists as we attempted to strike the mains’l with the forestays’l downhaul, one watch was crowned victorious.
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.
Every day since we boarded the Cramer it has been a process of learning, overcoming and achieving. Today, while every team works on their research projects with a different organism, I’m sure I speak for most of my shipmates when I say that this experience has been an opportunity to appreciate the world in a different way, conceive the ocean as a vast and living organism hiding life in every droplet of water, where everything is tightly related. For us, this has revealed a new vision of the ocean.
We’re thrilled to once again join with Sailors for the Sea, a leading ocean conservation organization, for our “Onboard Reporter” program.
This is a special partnership that began last year. Each term, one SEA Semester student is designated as Sailors for Sea’s “Onboard Reporter,” and receives a $1,500 award.
This spring, the Onboard Reporter is Anna Brodmerkel, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anna is currently sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer as a member of C-273, Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (known around here as MBC).