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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers.

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer



Using the Ocean Health Index

Mary Malloy, Ph.D., Professor of Maritime Studies
The Global Ocean

Above: We toured the harbor on a boat belonging to the Port of Barcelona. Our guide was Núria Zaragoza (on the left), who organizes courses for “Escola Europea de Short Sea Shipping,” a company that trains professional mariners for working in the Mediterranean. The Barcelona Customs House is in the background. Below, right: Samih Taylor studying aboard the Cramer in Mallorca, with a full moon rising in the background.

Ship's Log

39° 59’ N x 2° 38’E

Fine sunny weather

Barcelona and Mallorca
We have finished our first two port stops and put to sea again for a nine-day stretch through the Straits of Gibraltar to our next stop at Cadiz, on the Atlantic coast of Spain.  This gives us some time to ponder what we’ve learned and start to put it together in papers and daily discussions on the ship. Our program, “The Global Ocean,” is built around the Ocean Health Index, a series of ten metrics designed by conservation organizations to consider how we might begin to measure human impacts on coastal areas and the marine environment.  When we are at sea, we will be looking at carbon levels in the ocean, the biological diversity of marine species, and pollution—especially plastics in the ocean, which is a topic that SEA has studied seriously for several decades.  In our ports of call, we are looking at the impacts of tourism, fishing, and the infrastructure of ports.

We began with the port of Boston, walking along the original waterfront using a series of old maps, and then touring the harbor by boat to see how the working port had shifted from downtown to Charlestown, to East Boston, and then to South Boston, building new land along the way.  In Boston the process took about 300 years; in Barcelona a complete transformation of the waterfront has taken place in less than 30.  (You can see this in a series of satellite images at http://www.portdebarcelona.cat/en/web/Port%20del%20Ciudada/infografia.)


Barcelona harbor was teeming with ships during our tour of the port.  We saw cargo vessels that ship goods in bulk or containers, roll-on/roll-off vessels, ferries, fishing boats, small garbage boats that patrol the harbor for trash on the water, tankers carrying petroleum and liquified natural gas, yachts of every size, skulls with one and two rowers, sail boats up to 100 years old, and gigantic floating boxes that carry cars.  Several of the student projects for The Global Ocean are looking at the environmental and economic impacts of shipping.  Among the biggest vessels are cruise ships, some carrying 5000 passengers and 1500 crew.  On a single day this summer, cruise ships discharged 16,000 passengers in Barcelona.  While a major driver of the economy, tourism has clearly taken a toll on a city that now gets more than seven million tourists a year, and we had very frank discussions about both the positive and negative aspects of the industry with several local people.

The island of Mallorca has almost a similar number of tourists (over 6 million annually), coming by plane, cruise ship, and private yacht, and we saw thousands of yachts in the harbor of Palma. There was even a large cargo ship carrying big yachts on its deck!  There is much to think about, and we are in a very beautiful part of the world in which to do it. 

We are also thinking about our friends and families back home, and I want to wish a Happy Birthday to my friend Peg Brandon, president of SEA.

- Mary

Categories: Corwith Cramer,The Global Ocean: Europe, • Topics: c255  port stops  spain  science  culture  maritime history • (0) Comments
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