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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



Mike Oscar November Delta Alpha Yankee

Natasha Willcox, A watch, University of Rhode Island
Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

Litiopa melanostoma

Ship's Log

20° 52.1’ N x 066 ° 8.0’ W

Description of location
Sargasso Sea ABNJ


1.6 kts

Mostly sunny, wind coming from NxW at a rating of 4, temperature 25.7 degrees Celcius

Souls on Board

The Sargassum is back! Kind of. Today we found the most Sargassum on the whole trip thus far, but it still wasn’t a whole lot. We wanted to take advantage of the find, so we were hove to all the way until class time at 1400. We got plenty of samples, and they are now being processed. Since being hove to means not too much action of the watch crew on deck, we decided to practice some celestial navigation. It’s all fun and games until a dark cloud blocks out the sun… Nevertheless, we were able to get some lines of position, and later pinpoint our position using Local Apparent Noon. I have lost count of the amount of times that my dad has tried to teach me celestial navigation, and now I’m wishing I had paid more attention.

My research project on board is the mobile fauna that use Sargassum as their habitat. As a focus, we are looking at the Sargassum snail, Litiopa melanostoma. No research has been done specifically on this snail before, so I am really excited. We had a meeting with our wonderful chief scientist, Amy, today where we sat on top of the lab and discussed out project. It was mentioned that we have been seeing different-looking snails among the one species. No snail is like the other! I started to look into this, and ended up beginning to make a morphological key for L. melanostoma. So far I have identified two morphological types, but there’s lots more samples to look at.

Spending long periods of time looking at this pin-sized creature under the microscope, I have started to really appreciate how beautiful their patterns are. Why are they all different? Is it for camouflage? Is it just because they can? Does each pattern represent a different sub species? This is one of the questions we are thinking about when we begin the DNA portion of our project. Snails are cool!!! I am very lucky to be on a research group with Andrew, Alex, and Isa. They are all so smart, and we all bring different ideas and talents to the table to make our project great.

The sun warms our skin, making us feel held and comforted
The wind blows through our hair, like loving fingers running through it
The salt spray gives us a clean, refreshing burst
The rolling of the ship rocks us swiftly to sleep
The lines help our hands get rough and strong

Everything about mama Cramer, and the world around her takes good care of us. She makes sure we feel at home, and that we get home safely to our family and friends.

To my dearest family and friends, I miss you all so much and can’t wait to tell you all about this phenomenal experience.

Ted, I love you dearly!

Natasha Willcox
A watch
University of Rhode Island


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

#1. Posted by Charlie DuMond on April 27, 2016

Hi Natasha,
I loved reading you blog and you thoughts of the diversity, or individual characteristics of snails, perhaps even within the same species.
This reminds me of the fascinating differences we humans have and the adventure that we can share.
I am Isa dad and is is great to hear your reference to her, Andrew, and Alex.
It especially exciting to hear of your own experiences.
You are well beyond the horizon, keep it going.
Charlie DuMond

#2. Posted by Liliana Trumper on April 29, 2016

TAshi. !!! Qué lindo!!!! suena que te lo estás pasando BOMBA!!!!




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