SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
February 29, 2016
Leapin’ through Samana because we wanna
19°11.43’N x 69°99.86’W
Anchored in Samana Bay
Very hot, clear skies
Happy Leap Year, friends and family back home! Today was our second day anchored in Samana Bay, Dominican Republic. Yesterday we remained on board, however today we spent a long day out exploring this island. Our day began with a beautiful sunrise and some delicious pancakes that Maddie assisted on, followed by several tours throughout different areas of Samana. Our fantastic tour guide Wilfredo Benjamin Kelly accompanied us all day and taught us about the history of the town (we learned that the majority of the people of Samana have English last names because of the diverse cultures represented). Some interesting facts about the locals: They have a strong African influence, have a Spanish dialect that is very different from other countries because it’s a mix of cultures, and are mainly Methodist.
From walking around town and just gazing out of the windows on our drive, I felt a very different feel on this island than the previous ones we have visited. To start, there weren’t big cruise ships and tourists everywhere, but mainly local Dominicans. Spanish was the prominent language spoken so it was fun to get in some practice speaking it! There were extremely vibrant and beautiful colors everywhere, from the lush green palms, the rich red
soil on the plantations, the colorful houses, and of course the blue Caribbean Sea.
Our first stop was a “Cooperativa Agroturistica guariquen” project attempting to develop organically grown ginger and yams of export and demonstration tourism. This was followed by a delicious Dominican-style rice and san cocho lunch at “La Sangria,” eco-campo prepared for us by Maria Cristiana. We sipped coconut water straight out of the coconut while getting a tour of the eco-friendly farm where sugar cane, coconuts, pineapples, and bananas are grown for local markets and use at the eco camp. A local farmer named Nicola even let us taste the sugar cane! As hard as it was for some of us to leave the peacefulness and serenity of this farm, we had more tours to get to!
We stopped by an Iguana Conservatory where iguanas are kept that would otherwise go extinct on the island. Being the reptile lover that I am, this was super cool to meet Isabel who shares my love for protecting such a cool species. Afterwards, we met with a bunch of local fishermen community of Los Cacaos who are doing incredible work to help create and preserve local marine protected areas, especially coral reefs. One of their planned
projects is to sink a ship to provide hard substrate for more coral to grow. As someone who did my research project on the association of human interaction with the decline in sea turtles, I was very fascinated and impressed with these guys. Fishermen have generally been a large part of the decline of sea turtles because of bycatch. These fishermen have been “looking ahead to the future” as they put it, and do not want to overfish the area. So, instead they have been doing other activities to find an income for fisherman such as tourism and scuba diving. One of the guys explained to me that since 2011, he had been trying to spread his ideas to more fishermen, and it was difficult for a while. It started very small but grew a lot in a few years, so he explained to me that it “just takes one person.” They are currently waiting on approval for the project they are working on.
Our final stop was back in Samana at the Whale Museum where Liliana Betancourt and her young protégé Aurelio described the biology, migration patterns, and behavior of the humpback whales in Samana Bay. We learned how important the whales and the whale watching industry has become for the people of Samana, which was awesome.
Back on the ship we had an all-hands dinner to end the day, and fell back into anchor watches for the evening. The stars tonight were some of the best I’ve ever seen. We said goodbye to Peter Stone our resident author, artist, illustrator who is flying back to the States. We had a music jam session on deck before sending him off. Special thanks to Peter for joining us these past few weeks and inspiring all of our artistic and creative abilities! We
will definitely miss his presence on the Cramer.
Tomorrow will be another busy day. In the morning we will welcome 15 middle school students from the town of Las Terranas onboard the Cramer to check out the ship and all of our fun science. In the afternoon we will explore the town of Samana on our own.
PS: Mom, Dad, and Natalie – miss you guys! Give Cristy a big hug for me! The stray dogs here are pretty cute but of course can’t compare. Hope the package I sent arrived!
PPS: shout out to Pam’s cat FiFi.