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
March 04, 2017
Taking Time to Listen
Listen: • Download mp3
20° 24.7’N x W 071° 17.9’ W
Sailing on a port tack on our way to Port Antonio, Jamaica.
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Steering 261° PSC, 5.2 knots
Winds East by North Force 5, Seas 5 feet
If I had to come up with a personal slogan it would be "take time to listen." As a marine mammal scientist and acoustician at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, just down the street from SEA Semester, it is my job to take time to listen to the ocean and use listening as a tool to learn about marine animals including marine mammals. But in my time interacting with people of all ages through various outreach and teaching opportunities, I have realized that too often people don't take time to listen and that this important part of our environment can easily be lost or forgotten.
Not yesterday though, we listened for 7.5 hours!
We were on Silver Bank around 7:45 and less than 10 minutes later, the humpback whales were everywhere and we started taking note of all of the surface behaviors we saw. Less than two hours after that we were listening.
If you have been following the blog you have heard from some of the students about listening to whales with me but absolutely nothing could compare or prepare us for what Silver Bank had in store for us yesterday. I put on the headphones as I always do to check our settings and make any adjustments. I was immediately met by the best sound I've probably ever heard in my life (clip hopefully included). I let a few people listen with headphones, watching their eyes light up and big smiles spread across their faces as someone retrieved a speaker. This was too good not to share with the whole ship. We quickly replaced the headphones and until sunset we all listened to the amazing underwater world of Silver Bank. Some visitors to the quarterdeck liked to name the sounds. There were cats, coyotes, blasters from Star Wars, bubbly bloops and seagulls. Other quarterdeck visitors sat peacefully in the shade on deck while others kept a watchful eye on the water for surface activity.
Our day on Silver Bank could not have been better. From rainblows (when a whale surfaces, breathes, and produces a blow that catches the light perfectly and makes a rainbow), to watching a mom and calf surface within a boat's length of us, and fluke dives into the sunset. I think everyone seemed to grasp just how special this day was and just how lucky we were to be there in that moment.
As I near the end of my time on the Cramer, I hope that if I leave anything with my fellow shipmates, it would be to always take time to listen. Whether it is to the sounds of Momma Cramer on a boat check, or to the wonderful musicians we have on board, to each other as we recount the up's and down's of our time at sea, or of course to the whales and dolphins we have had the awesome opportunity to record. We may not always be able to have a 7.5 hour "shady whale party" but we can always take time to listen.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank SEA Semester for letting me join this great adventure and for being wonderful collaborators. The data we collected is an important addition to the Caribbean Humpback Acoustic Monitoring Program (CHAMP) at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and will be shared with our collaborators from the Dominican Republic. To everyone who I've met along the way, especially Omar Shamir Reynoso (ANAMAR - National Authority of Maritime Affairs), Lilliana Betancourt (CEBSE - a local non-profit dedicated to education and conservation of Samana Bay) and Kim Beddall (Whale Samana), I look forward to working with you and continuing our collaboration as we learn more about the humpback whales of the Caribbean!
PS: Mom, Dad and Kaitlin, I have so much to share from my Moana adventure
and I can't wait to see you all! Love you lots and miss you tons!
PPS: To Nathalie Ward from Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary and CaribTails
monitoring program. can you help us identify our Silver Bank whale?