SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 16, 2017
17° 34.33’ N 61°48.73’ W
Mostly clear, light showers
Beside the Corwith Cramer, Barbuda stretches out- low-lying and tranquil, encompassing half the horizon. The water is the kind of clear aqua blue that you would expect to find on a brochure advertising some type of dream getaway; and the sun warms my skin as I lean into a wind that hasn’t seen humans since it left the Sahara Desert to blow across the Atlantic.
Somewhere, someone plays “Despacito” on the ukulele. On the science deck, Christine throws a mock punch at Bryant in an impromptu stage fighting lesson. Chris laments that 18 million people have already seen the new Star Wars, and none of those 18 million are us. Off to the side is a jokingly heated conversation about comparing of legs to dorsal fins, or the inadequacies of comparing legs to dorsal fins, or something along those lines that I won’t even try to make sense of for you so you can join me in my confusion. This scene isn’t one that we’ve become specifically accustomed to over the past three weeks, but I’d be lying if I said it was anywhere out of the norm.
Today was our first surveying Barbuda, an island that lost 95% of its infrastructure as a result of this summer’s hurricanes, an island which has been forcibly evacuated up until very recently and even now only has 400 people living on it in any type of permanent capacity. We’ve been anxiously awaiting today’s snorkeling missions since we learned that we’d be the first scientific eyes on these reefs since the island was decimated. I’d like to try and explain to you exactly the state of the reefs on the island, but as a relatively untrained undergrad I feel like I’m not the right person to do that for you. I realize that might be wildly unsatisfying, and I may have done better to have avoided the topic completely, but hopefully it will suffice to say this: yes, we snorkeled the reefs. No, they aren’t completely wiped out. In fact, there were some pretty incredible highlights- around 3 sea turtles, an incredibly impressive wall of Porites Porites, and a gathering of 30-40 live conch (a conch-clave?) that had even our esteemed chief scientist somewhere in the vicinity of giddy. There was a lot of damage too, but for the sake of a positive blog I’ll leave it to whoever you may know on the ship to tell you about that.
And unfortunately, that’s all I have time to write. The sunset, food, and the papers that I have to write are all calling my name.