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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
December 12, 2019
Reefs, Rainbows, and Rendezvous: First Reef Survey Day in Montserrat
16º 47.9’ N, 62º 12.8’ W
At anchor in Little Bay, Montserrat
28C, 10 kt winds from the northeast, partly cloudy skies with a squall approaching over the island
1-2 ft. seas
Hello, friends! My name is Caroline and I am from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Today, I get to tell the tale of our first day of snorkel adventures in Montserrat! After an eventful morning of chore duty, C Watch loaded into the small boats (we helped build the “Station Wagon” yesterday!) and headed out to Rendezvous Bay at 1030. Riding in the small boats was exciting, as we bounced across the waves in a much more intimate fashion than we have become used to on our ship. When we made it to Rendezvous Bay, we hopped right in and began to look for a reef patch for our transect. The bay was beautiful and there was a huge diversity of fish, coral, and invertebrates; it was definitely in the best condition of the reefs we have been so far.
Once we found a spot for our transect, Rebecca and I began to take our quadrat photos. Unfortunately, as we dove to take our first picture, our camera blacked out and would not turn back on! We determined that the camera had been cracked and then flooded, so we had to borrow Heather’s personal camera in order to take our photos. This unexpected dilemma was frustrating and time-consuming, but surprise problems are simply in the nature of conducting field work. Thankfully, we had another we could use as a backup and we were able to collect the necessary data.
After heading back to the Cramer, we quickly dried off, ate some lunch, and split up between the library and lab to begin our data processing. This included some of our watch running chemical analyses while others entered our field data and began identifying benthic cover in our transects using Coral Point Count. We enjoyed a delicious brookie snack, and then I was able to head up on deck for some quality talking partner time with my TP, Thomas. One of my favorite things about this program is how much our personal and emotional growth has been prioritized, and our talking partners have been super helpful in this process. My TP on shore, Lexi, was essentially a random, forced friendship that quickly turned into a very real one, and I am so happy we were able to help each other grow into more capable leaders, better friends, and more confident human beings. ~Holy guac this got really cheesy~
The rain started to pour after dinner, causing the lab to flood, and I was recruited by the assistant scientists (in what I first believed to be a Clue murder attempt) to mop the floor with half a sponge and a bucket (for visuals, picture the albino’s futile attempts to clean Westley’s wounds in The Princess Bride). Once that was finally taken care of, the rain halted and a few of us headed back up on deck for some song singing and deep conversation. There’s nothing quite like ending your evening laying on deck with good friends, looking at the stars, and discussing philosophical life questions – what more can you really ask for? All I know is that I just want to hold onto this feeling and these people and this wild, crazy energy for dear life because, man, I am living!
- Caroline Caton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign