SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 26, 2014
An eXXpedition on The Sea Dragon
After following this blog for the last week, you may be wondering why there’s an icon of an “XX” running somewhat parallel to the SSV Corwith Cramer‘s cruise track. This is, in fact, another science research voyage sailing a similar course to the Cramer. The Sea Dragon is a 72ft steel hulled sailing vessel built in the UK in 2000. She is one of 11 yachts built for the Global Challenge Race – one of the longest, most demanding ocean voyages ever undertaken. Now run by Pangaea Explorations to carry out scientific research, the Sea Dragon has a crew of 14 female scientists, sailors, and conservationists onboard, on a mission to understand in more detail how environmental and specifically ocean toxins affect women’s health. While onboard, they are using surface trawl nets to sample for plastics and to catch pelagic fish, which will be stored and shipped back to laboratories for assessment following the voyage’s completion. Collected microplastics will be sent for assessment for POPs, PCBs and other toxic contaminants while the fish will be assessed for plastic fragments in their guts and presence of toxic residues.
Not surprisingly, we are collecting similar data onboard the Cramer. In fact, SEA Semester voyages have been collecting microplastics in net trawls in the North Atlantic since the mid-1980’s and we happen to have the argest data set of North Atlantic Ocean microplastics in the world. When we learned - through SEA Research Professor Dr. Kara Lavender Law - that we would be sailing in tandem with the Sea Dragon, we decided to do some collaboration, sharing our observations and data back and forth. It has been nearly thirty years since SEA Semester has sailed across the Atlantic (from the Canary Islands to St. Croix), and we have never sampled these waters for plastics. Therefore it’s very exciting to have one ship sailing this course, much less two!
Dr. Law recently posted this to our blog:
I have been enthusiastically following your progress through the daily blogs, not only to learn about the plastic marine debris you are encountering (possibly the first time anyone has sampled these waters for plastic!), but also because my research assistant, Jess, is helping guide you through lab, and my collaborator, Dr. Jenna Jambeck (U. Georgia) is sailing in the same “neck of the woods” with eXXpedition. It sounds like an amazing voyage on all fronts, and I wish you fair winds and many memorable experiences to come. Keep those plastics updates coming, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!