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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

May 02, 2014

C252 Web Blog - 02 May 2014

Manuel A. Nieves Ortiz, Universidad de Puerto Rico en Humacao


Plastics, plastics, plastics!

Ship's Log

Docked in St. George’s Bermuda
Partly Cloudy, 22.3°C, Wind SW x W Force 4

Bermuda is just beautiful and full with excitement. Even though is not as warm as back home, Bermuda is a mix of the beautiful tropical world and the dynamic seasonal patterns that exalt Nature’s beauty. Today we got the opportunity to visit the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS) and got to talk with very interesting people. We learned about many of the seeds that travel floating around the ocean for a long time and sometimes reach Bermuda. Seeds that sometimes come from Costa Rica and even the Amazons in Brazil! Those little seeds have traveled much more than us, and some get to grow into adult trees! Isn’t that crazy? After learning about all the natural stuff that floats around with the purpose of surviving and dispersing, we learned about a picture that was not appealing at all… plastics. Our speaker showed us some of the things that usually wash up on Bermuda’s shores. Toothbrushes, lighters, glow sticks, and the balls of roll-on deodorants (yep, as surprising as it may seem) are just some of the most common plastics found around Bermuda. If plastics were simply “there” and not have an effect on any organisms, we might not think of them as an important issue. However, the main problem with these plastics is that many species of fish, sea turtles, and seabirds, mistake them for their usual food and end up choking to death or filling up their stomachs until they cannot eat anymore, and eventually die. We were able to visualize this by seeing different types of bite marks of different animals in many of the plastics our speaker showed us. Being in BIOS definitely help me have a better understanding of how we are connected to the oceans. Even though you may be a couple of hundred (or thousand) miles away from a marine body, it does not mean that you are not directly affecting the oceans and that the oceans are not affecting you.

After walking around BIOS, the undergrads had the afternoon all for ourselves, so we decided to do a little cave exploring. We took a bus towards Blue Hole Park and got to walk through nice nature trails that had many of the trees I am used to seeing back at home. With white sandy beaches to our left and dense forest and caves to our right, we kept on walking towards the end of the first trail where we found three scattered entrances into a cave. As we walked in, we could hear water drops dripping from the cave’s ceiling and the air getting cooler as we got surrounded by the cave’s shade. To our surprise, we found a huge pool of brackish water with some shrimps and fishes here and there and colorful orange and purple sea sponges coloring the rocks. The water was surprisingly nice and refreshing, and clear as blue skies that have blessed most of our days.

After enjoying the cave, we walked back to one of the beaches we passed by and spent most of the afternoon watching schools of hundreds of small fishes swimming past us, the warm waters in the shallow areas of the beach, and laying below the shade of the few mangrove trees we had around us. Scientists (and nerds) at the end, we began collecting the different plastics that we found around the beach. Not to our surprise, we found glow sticks, toothbrushes, roll-on, and deodorant balls among fish net fragments, sandals, light bulbs, and bottle caps, loooots of bottle caps.  Experiencing this first hand really moved me into reducing my usage of plastics to zero. I know I would not like to eat a plastic-filled tuna, or ignore that my plastic wastes are killing endangered or threatened marine species. I know it is entirely possible to avoid harming the ocean, considering that there are many options like reusable utensils and containers, and good recycling programs for plastics, including toothbrushes. Being an advocate for clean beaches and oceans, we should consider enhancing the ways we manage and dispose of our plastics. By doing this, we can all enjoy the beautiful ocean landscapes we like so much, and ensure that our seafood is free of contaminants. It is an all sides win!

Tomorrow we have a full day off to explore. We already bought our full-day-pass tickets for the bus. We are going to make the best out of these experiences, while maintaining our focus as marine scientists. All of our projects are going well with some minor setbacks that will enrich our knowledge on how to make science better.

Regrettably, I am running out of space to write as we are running out of time to spend in this beautiful island. There are so many things we want to say but have so little time and paper to write it. Nevertheless, stay tuned on our blog. There are great things to come, considering we are only half way through our voyage.

Fair winds, hugs, and blessings from the Cramer’s Crew,

P.S. To my shipmate’s families and friends: “you all have a great bunch of kids”. To all of you, and to my family and friends back home: “we will see you soon”.

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topics: c252  port stops  bermuda.  plastics • (0) Comments


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