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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. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

July 05, 2014

A Weekend, Every 3 Days

David H. Livingstone, B-Watch, University of Chicago

One cannot understate how lucky our ship is to have Nina as our magnificent Steward! Always a source of good cheer and unparalleled cooking, we see her here at home in the Galley with American flags still up from the Fourth of July.

Ship's Log

15° 06’ 31.20” N x 160° 44’ 07.20” W

I am actually writing this blog entry a couple of days following the fifth of July.  What with all of the commotion aboard the ship there was a gap in the entries, but I am retroactively unfolding the crease.

I had the pleasure of having the fifth be my weekend, which allowed me to see the bookends of the day.  The “weekend” as it pertains to the Seamans and her crew is not a fixed point.  Instead, the weekend occurs every three days and it is when one’s watch schedule is for dawn and dusk, freeing the twelve midday hours for rest.  The fifth was B watch’s weekend. Dawn watch began at 0300 hours following a choppy night.  I was given the opportunity to stand as the first lookout on watch.  I stood at the bow, dappled with soft rain, as our ship burst across the rough blue waters and cut through the early strands of first light.  We headed purposefully towards a wall of grey clouds, indicating an oncoming squall.  As we broke through the misty shroud of the squall, the swells of the waves puffed themselves proudly up, and the drizzle blossomed into a cool shower, painting the teak deck a chocolaty brown.  I pulled my bright, highlighter-yellow foul weather jacket close to prevent the rainwater from permeating my shell.  I saw over a dozen rainbows on that watch; as each rainbow receded, the yellow sun, already gaining good ground in the morning sky, would set to work drawing out a new one from a set of thick clouds somewhere else in the horizon.  Near the end of my dawn watch, I was fortunate to see over a dozen and a half shearwaters and petrels coalesce. These seabirds do not flock together purposefully at sea, but instead all of them had smelled the increased primary production in the area, and indeed there had been a spike in chlorophyll-a concentration at that time at the surface of the tumultuous sea.

My evening watch was more scientifically oriented than my dawn watch.  As our ship slid through the darkening water during the crepuscular hours, out issued from the sides of her hull swirls and spray along with eddies and pulses of bioluminescence.  It was into these strange and beautiful portside hieroglyphs that my watch lowered our neuston net at 2345 hours.  The neuston is the surface water-air interface, and after a half hour long tow, we removed the net from the rolling ocean and set to work separating, preserving, and cataloguing our samples.  The surface of the pelagic waters contained more life and diversity than I had anticipated.  Of the macroscopic organisms collected we found flying fish, myctophids, a very young planktonic octopus, a planktonic larval crab, and a small pufferfish (about one square centimeter in size-almost perfectly spherical!).  The microinvertebrates were equally, if not even more, jaw-dropping, but listing them all here would be Sisyphian.

With the bustle of the wet and stormy dawn juxtaposed with the calm evening, the fifth was a marvelous day at sea.  As we press forth on our track to the Phoenix Islands, I am excited to see what else the ocean will send our way.  The more time I spend studying the pelagic world, the more I am inclined to posit that Shelley’s aquatic “oozy forests” are even more lovely, dark, and deep than Frost’s snowy woods.

Shout out to my friends and family back stateside (ahoy, Frances!)

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s254  science • (0) Comments


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