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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

March 03, 2019

Can you hear me now?

Sarah Weiss, Visiting Scientist/Resident Whale Expert, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center


Current Location
20° 57.4’ N x 73° 41.1’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed

E x NE wind, calm seas

Souls on board

In the field of acoustics, a soundscape can be defined as the combination of all of the sounds that occur in, and make up, an environment. When we think of the ocean, we can categorize these sounds into three main groups: biological (such as whales or fish), abiotic (natural sounds such as wind or rain), and anthropogenic, or human-caused (such as vessel noise). Often, these sounds each fill a niche, fitting like a puzzle piece into the jigsaw that is the overall ocean soundscape.  While soundscapes vary across both time and space, some sounds remain quite steadfast and near-constant.

Today, I want to invite you aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer and into the soundscape that defines C284. Sit back and turn the volume all the way up.

  • “(Insert your name here)” growing louder and louder with repetition as you are drawn away from those few precious hours of sleep to hear about the weather and when you are next expected up on deck.
  • The dinging and ringing of the food triangle and calls to breakfast for A and B watch, awakening you again a few minutes later.
  • Thud of heavy footsteps up on deck from the comfort of your upper bunk.
  • Flap of laundry drying in the breeze.
  • Waves slapping against the hull.
  • The hard-to-spell noise (You know the one) accompanying the squeeze of that last drop of sunscreen from a near-empty bottle (Yes mom, don’t worry, I have been reapplying every two hours…)
  • The call and repeat of sail commands by the mate and their watch. Often, when elsewhere on the ship, you only hear the response call, emboldened by numerous bodies.
  • Grunts and heavy breaths following a successfully furled sail.
  • Cries of “SARGASSUM!” from our spotter up ahead.
  • Calls of excitement and pride when a dip net nearly-overflowing with that same Sargassum is brought on board by its captor.
  • Dishes splashing into the blue sanitizing bucket after being scrubbed by sun-worn hands.
  • The splash of fins and clearing of a snorkel after an attempt to get a closer look at the juvenile parrotfish swimming below during a reef survey.
  • The strum of a ukulele performed by both amateurs and aficionados alike.
  • Singing voices in unison and attempted harmonies often accompanying that strumming (if I ever doubted before that I knew all of the words to “Hey There Delilah,” I certainly never will again).
  • The rhythmic bird-like chirp of our ship’s echosounder (aptly called the CHIRP) working to calculate the depth of the water surrounding us by listening for its own echo, growing louder and louder until you can feel it in your teeth as you move deeper into the galley and dry storage of the ship.
  • The drip and ultimate splash of sweat droplets hitting the wooden deck (Alright you caught me, this one doesn’t quite make an audible sound, but I need you to understand just how hot it is, especially when anchored).
  • Cheers and sounds of utter jubilation upon hearing that the “Pool” is opening in five short minutes.
  • The splash of nearly every body on board into the turquoise water, exactly five minutes and one second after that last announcement.
  • Whirring of the fans one often has to seek out and lay beneath.
  • The rubbing of sandpaper across wood as our Chief Engineer Henry whittles away.
  • Ever-constant hum of the generator.
  • Watercolors slowly spreading across the once-white page of a journal (Once again you caught me with this one. Insert your favorite relaxing melody here and go with me).
  • The contagious laugh of our steward Cat bursting from the galley that only makes you smile.
  • The frequent count-off  (and often restart of the count-off) from 1-21, ensuring that all of our students are on the quarterdeck to begin our next ship’s meeting, followed closely by attendance of the rest of our crew, including our mates, science team, engine room, galley, TA, and “Whale Expert” (Here!).
  • Elated cries of “Whale!” when that distant blow cracks the surface of the water (I may be quite biased, but this is by far my favorite sound. Always keep one eye out on the water…).
  • Clang and squeaky turn of the engine room door opening and closing, signifying the hourly boat check.
  • Dishes moving and objects thumping in the rolls of heavy swell.
  • The flapping of the flag in the wind, its colors changing every few days as the seas continue to pass us by.
  • Distant sounds and melodies from shore while anchored off Great Inagua (I think tonight might be karaoke night?).
  • The unmistakable and unavoidable train of yawns accompanying faces dripping with exhaustion
  • Finally (for a few moments at least), the soft thump at the end of the day as our heads finally find their destination for those few short hours of rest before starting again.

- Sarah Weiss, Visiting Scientist/Resident Whale Expert, NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Previous entry: Half-Way There    Next entry: Boppin’ around Napier


#1. Posted by michele on March 05, 2019

Thank you Sarah for the great painting .... loved the picture, and the landscape .... thank you for taking us on board! .... Ciao Asia, Love you Ooceans!



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