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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the layer tools, top right, to change the map style or to view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

January 07, 2016

Study Abroad at SEA

Kevin Fitzgerald, Study Abroad Advisor, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Colleague Cruise

Doing Science with the Carousel.

Ship's Log

18° 55’ N x 65° 15’ W

Description of location
Along the Puerto Rico Trench, Puerto Rico


5 kts

Weather / Wind
Clear Skies, 5mph from the East

What a day for science. As a study abroad professional, I am always looking for where the “study” is put into the abroad experience. The SEA Semester’s SSV Corwith Cramer certainly does do the study and experiential component well. Under the guidance of our Chief Scientist Erik, each watch is tasked with deployments, counts, and processing of data collected, and sometimes there is general amazement at what is caught in open water. During my watch (C watch) we prepped and readied some experiments for the day. One of the unique aspects of these studies is that they are all part of ongoing longitudinal studies, with some running 20 plus years. Long running, consistent data, I am told, is what feeds the dreams of the scientists aboard.

Today, like yesterday, was filled with the at-sea routine of watch duties and changes, meals and off-watch activities, but it was the active oceanographic investigations that seized my attention. As one of the few non-faculty aboard, I was mesmerized by the lab, tools and the focus of study. The first test was the Secchi Disk, which measures how clear the water is and has some 150 years of data that allows for pretty accurate assumptions. Results showed that we were in an oceanic desert. In 50 meters of water, we could see the 30cm ft. diameter white disk from the deck at about 26 meters down. While clear and awesome, the ocean here has sparse life. Along with this test, I prepped the “carousel” which is primed to capture the ocean water at 12 different predetermined depths as it was raised from the bottom in order to demonstrate how different levels have different chemical and physical makeups. Finally we prepped and readied surface collections and sediment grabs for evening analysis. It was great for me to see my shipmates get so excited about seeing specimens and samples in the flesh.

The SSV Corwith Cramer is truly a lab at sea. Throughout the day, I constantly imagined students becoming the scientists themselves while on board for a semester or shorter term program. I imagined them witnessing the changes of their samples, cataloging the different species, looking through the microscopes at what was once only looked at in books, seeking answers to questions. Being at Miami University of Ohio, we are far from open ocean, but our students of all majors will find at SEA an opportunity to become the scientist, to become the sailor and to learn about life at sea. For example, I now know the feeding habits of salps (google it!)

- Kevin

Categories: Corwith Cramer, • Topics: colleague cruise  science  research • (1) Comments
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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 Sarah Tyrrell on January 15, 2016

I love that you got a taste of this experience. I would have never known about SEA without your guidance!

-Sarah Tyrrell, C257



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