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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
December 06, 2015
Thor: Long May He Live!
Western side of mid-Atlantic ridge
Up to the Gods
Has rained on every watch lately
It was a warm December morning aboard mama Cramer. The sun was shining, the waves were rolling, and the flying fish were fleeing for their lives away from what must have appeared to be a monstrosity for them, but for us, is a wonderful floating home. It was on this morning that I stood on the starboard side of the deck, clipped into the railing for safety, dip net in hand, poised like a Poseidon himself and gazing out into the horizon.
Behind me I heard "Wire Stop!", whereas in front of me, small windrows of Sargassum occasionally floated by. As I scanned each bit of Sargassum, trying to differentiate between fragment and clump, all of a sudden I saw a Sargassum crab (Portunus sayi) swimming for his life past the ship, far away from any bit of Sargassum or substrate. Admiring his determination, I quickly plunged the dip net into the water (away from him so as to not hurt or startle him) and delicately scooped him up. Once the net was safely on board, I reached inside of the net, gently pulled the crab out, and admired him up close.
He looked fatigued (I have confirmed that it was a he), so I quickly rushed into the lab, retrieved the small aquarium tank, and placed him inside. Oh, how happy he seemed to be able to relax in calm waters again, but something seemed wrong, he looked lonely. Quick as a rabbit, I grabbed the dip net and proceeded to scoop up fragments of Sargassum so as to give him friends and a proper habitat. Into the aquarium went several fragments of Sargassum which he could rest on or hide in; four other crabs so that he could enjoy the company of his own species; several shrimp, which added to the community and provided nourishment for the crabs; and a bit of plankton to complete the foodweb in the microcosm I had created.
Now, my crab looked truly at peace, for he was the mightiest of animals in this tank. Being at least twice as big as any of the other crabs or shrimp, he truly was the king of the jungle, and so, while admiring him, I decided to name him "Thor"!
But the Gods are cruel. Although I changed Thor's water several times that day, cleaned his tank before bed, and provided him and the other animals with additional scoops of plankton, when I awoke the next morning
there was a movement on board the ship, a movement that was rapidly gaining followers. This movement was the SACC, the Students Against Crab Cruelty, and they demanded I release Thor back into the water. I tried to argue my case. I told them that he was being well taken care of, and to release him into the water now would mean certain death since there was no Sargassum or anything else for him to live on. However, this following was relentless. And so, fearing a mutiny aboard the ship, I had to please the masses, and at noon I released Thor and his companions.
It hasn't yet been 24 hours, but I still think of my little crab companion. In my mind, he made the perfect ship pet, a topic myself and a large portion of the mutineers had discussed the day before. I wonder now where he is, and if he has found a new home. Perhaps one of the cargo ships we have seen this evening saw him and picked him up, realizing how much potential Thor has.
Alas, all I can say is, aboard the ship, we truly look for the smallest things for entertainment.
PS. Mom, Dad, and loved ones, I wrote this a 3:51AM, which is probably why it is mostly about the crab. However, please know that I think of you all every day. Truly I love you and miss you all so so much. I am doing super well though and can't wait to hear your voices when I call you all once we are in Dominica! Please be safe, and again I love you so much.