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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

February 17, 2018

First Snorkel Survey!

Jordan Churchwell, B Watch, Colorado College


Above: Students walking alongside a mangled forest area; Below: An image of an awesome brain coral next to a purple sea fan!

Ship's Log

Current Location
18° 21.758’ N x 064° 44.933’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Ship Anchored, St. Francis Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Fresh winds from the East North East, Calm waters less than 1ft waves from the East North East, Gorgeous puffy cumulus clouds covering about 3/8ths of the sky, and Warm tropical temperatures.

Souls on board

Hello friends and family! I think I speak for all of us when I say we wish you could be here with us to see this beauty. My day actually started at 0100 (1am) where I had a quick 1hr deck watch. Since we are at anchor in Francis Bay (surrounded by US and British Virgin Islands), we needed less people on watch, meaning 1hr instead of 4hrs of a night watch. Woo more time to sleep!

The real fun began around 1000 when we took a small motor boat over to St. John for about a 2 mile hike inland to Waterlemon Cay. As we walked over we saw an area of forest, and multiple boats, that had been devastated by the recent hurricanes (see image 1). It was also interesting to note that on this island that is mostly a national park, at least 60% of the cars we saw were Jeeps and one of the two only non-white people I saw was driving a tour bus. There were plenty of yachts, small boats, and some wakeboarding.  While we were enjoying the views as much as anyone else, we were also there for some science!

As part of the soundscape team, working with the incredible Genevieve Davis (of NOAA), we tied a PVC pipe to a plastic crate, weighted it with 12 pounds, zip tied a hydrophone to the pole, and then attached floatation devices for ease of deployment and retrieval. We turned on the hydrophone and then lowered it into the water near the coral reef. After that, we met up with our watch groups to begin our snorkel survey.

We snorkeled around Waterlemon Cay, my first real snorkeling experience, and saw truly incredible sights. We all had select specimens to keep track of and count. My specimens were anemones and sea worms. I ended up seeing 14 Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus spp.) and 14 Feather Duster Worms (Sabellidea). The Christmas Tree Worms were beautiful white and red creatures resembling pine trees. They were much smaller than I expected, ranging from about a quarter to a half dollar size in diameter and only about an inch or two long. The Feather Duster Worms were light orange in color and swayed majestically with the water. However, I think my favorite specimen we saw was brain coral. This coral is yellow when healthy and somewhat replicates the intricacies of a human brain (see image 2). So cool! It was difficult to manage tracking our specimen, keeping pace with our watch group, and trying to take in all the wonder before us, but somehow we did it in less than an hour.

After hiking back and motor boating to the Corwith Cramer we washed off, with a refreshing fresh water spray (we get a fresh water shower about once every 3 days for context), and learned a lot more about lines and sails. It's been a lot to take in, and a lot more is coming. We haven't analyzed the data from the soundscape of the coral reef yet, but we will soon! We ended with a wonderful dinner prepared by Ger Tysk (our steward) and Matthew Lin (our fellow classmate who was assistant steward for the day). We had Chinese food in celebration of the recent Chinese New Year, and it was absolutely delicious! What a day to remember.

Well that's all we got for ya... for now! Thanks for tuning in folks! Please feel free to keep following our blog to learn about all the craziness we encounter on this extremely blessed, intense, and grand journey we're having.

All Love,

- Jordan Churchwell, B Watch, Colorado College

P.S. It's Michael Jordan's birthday today. It's also my moms, so shout out to the better of the two all-stars. Happy birthday mom!

Previous entry: Adjusting to Life at Sea    Next entry: Sailing North for Science!


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Nick Sette on February 20, 2018

Hi Nick Following along on your fellow students blog.  Hope you find it a great expeirence are are enjoying every day!  The area you are in is lovely.
Sail safely. Grammie

#2. Posted by Milena Joy Morris on February 20, 2018

I love you Jordan! Thank you for the shout out. It means so much to me. We love you & miss you! -Mom

#3. Posted by Stacey Strong on February 22, 2018

Wow!  Thanks for the update!  I have uploaded a link to this blogpost on Google Classroom for the Sturgis ROVers to read about the deployment of hydrophones!  Can’t wait to hear about what you have been recording underwater!

Stacey Strong
Sturgis ROVers
Sturgis Charter School, Hyannis, MA



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