SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 21, 2018
Anchored securely in Francis Bay, St John, USVIs
Winds E x S at a comfortable Beaufort Force 2-3. Cloudy and comfortable temperature - ideal for our Final Field Day (an epic cleaning session) on the Cramer.
A heartfelt thank you to Cramer, her crew, and old man Neptune for a successful and safe voyage thus far. A sincere thank you to all hands, especially the students, for their tireless efforts in the water during the many snorkel surveys and their meticulous efforts afterwards ensuring the quality of our datasets!
I can personally attest that these efforts were not in vain. Just yesterday the entire ship's company was treated to a series of captivating and insightful reef project, presentations by the students. Nina, Hannah, and Ryanne taught us about the distribution of different coral species in relation to a variety of environmental conditions. Alyssa compared the abundance of coral species with different reproductive strategies in relation to the same environmental conditions.
Sharil examined the relative percentage of algae versus coral cover observed at each island and compared these patterns to the amount of nutrients in the water. Ale spent her time in the water documenting the diversity of reef fish communities and related her findings to the presence or absence of lionfish based on interviews with local fisherfolk. Mahalia studied the amount of microplastics collected near each reef site and looked for a relationship with types of fish and invertebrates that may inadvertently ingest these unwanted materials. Maria, Bryce, and Laura measured the dynamics of reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide produced by different coral species (see earlier post by their mentor - Kalina Grabb).
Christian and Shane teamed up to study the habitat characteristics of different sponges by recording sponge videos and counting the abundance of fish and noting their behavior; including numerous occurrences of spongivory! Davi and Colleen teamed up to study island runoff and pollution on coral reef health using E. coli bacteria presence as a proxy measurement. Linny appeased her love of geology by studying suspended sediments around each reef site and relating her findings to changes in coral and macroalgae cover. And finally, Chloe taught us all about the zooplankton communities she collected around each reef site, delighting us with her artistic plankton drawings.
In short.. we all learned so much and I could not be more proud of the students and their work.
Naturally the timing of student final projects comes near the end of the voyage. Our time onboard right now is full of endings.. but also new beginnings. How appropriate that yesterday was the winter solstice, marking the end of one season and the start of another. The coincidences and symbolism did not end there as today happens to be a full moon; so our morning was graced by a memorable celestial scene - a full moon setting framed by cumulous clouds alighted by a rising sun.
The only equal I have found to abundance of natural beauty we have been surrounded by at every turn while onboard the Cramer has been the indelible community of shipmates that has blossomed these past several weeks. The tears being shed by shipmates in anticipation of goodbyes have been genuine. Though we are turning the page on cruise C283 there are many chapters yet to be written in this story. Memories, friendships, lessons learned; this ship, our shipmates, the many stories; all of this and more is now an integral part of who we are as individuals. And that undoubtedly is all for the better.
Thankfully, there is really no reason to be sad. A common tradition for sailors at sea is to never say goodbye, but rather to say "see you soon" or "until we meet again." The circles traveled are small among such adventurous souls who choose a life dedicated to the seas, thus I say with confidence that our paths will one day cross again.