SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 16, 2016
16°08.9’N x 61°52.4’W
Ship’s Heading & Speed
000 true at 6 knots
motor sailing under the four lowers
light easterly wind, small seas, some cumulus clouds
We are once again together and underway after spending three days anchored in Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica. Each watch had two days on land to explore the island and one day working on the ship to give Mama Cramer some well-deserved love.
This morning, the taste of Ting (a local grapefruit soda - think Squirt but so much better) still tickling my taste buds, we jumped right back into watch rotations, “rotating home” or back to our original watch officers for our last three days underway. For C Watch, this meant returning to Gabo, 2nd Assistant Scientist and Ryan, Third Mate. These last few watches are an exciting opportunity to show off all we have learned since phase one to our original “boat parents.” Immediately after breakfast, preparations for hauling back the anchor and getting underway began, and by 11:00 we were sailing north towards our next destination.
My mind is buzzing with memories from my last two days in Dominica - filled with fresh fruit, waterfalls, sunsets, great views, and even better company - but today I want to focus on the students’ final presentations. This afternoon during class, the students presented the research projects they have been working on for the last ten (four at sea) weeks, completing their last assignment for the semester.
As a non-student member of the ship, I have really been looking forward to hearing everyone’s presentations. I have seen the students put hours upon hours of work into these projects and it was great to see the final result.
Projects ranged from looking at the effect of sea surface temperatures on North Atlantic circulation patterns (Anna’s project) to the effects of pH and temperature on gelatinous organisms (Anthony and Rob’s). John, Kelsee, and Danny shared how to identify intermediate water masses by temperature and salinity signatures that match those of the source water and which water masses they were able to find and identify on this trip. James and Kayla researched the effect of ocean acidification on phytoplankton, and Gabrielle and Hannah looked at water column stratification and nutrients available for primary production. Bethany and Stefani presented their findings on the interactions between carbonate and nutrient chemistry.
Several themes came up throughout the afternoon. Mainly, all the students’ results were different than they expected. Many of these data were not statistically significant, but null results and trends still revealed really interesting information about what may or may not be happening. Something else that frequently came up was the difference between lab research and field research; that both are very different and equally important for gaining an understanding of the world around us. What you may see in a lab, though resulting in statistically significant results, may never actually occur in the natural world. Last but not least, every group tied their project into the larger scope of climate change. In changing one component of the ocean, like sea surface temperatures, climate change impacts all the interconnected processes that drive the complex ocean ecosystem.
When I asked Robin, a student on C Watch, how he felt about being done with the research project, he said “It feels sad, because it means our journey is coming to a close…but it was incredible to see everyone’s’ projects and how everything came together.” I couldn’t agree more. I was very impressed with everyone’s work, but am feeling sad that the end is drawing near.
On the lovely Cramer, surrounded by supportive, funny, and inspiring shipmates, it didn’t take long for my heart to take root, creeping deep into the nooks and crannies of the ship. When I think of leaving in a couple days, my heart grows heavy at the thought of having to sever these roots that tie me to what was once just a vessel but is now undoubtedly a home.
In the lee of Guadalupe Island, we set the d-sail (diesel engine) and motor north towards our final destination of St. Croix. Rumor has it the last 18 hours before we land in St. Croix will be filled with a final mission……more to follow. Stay tuned for students’ blog posts about Dominica and how their experiences tied into a policy project they did during the shore component.