SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 09, 2014
Welcome to Dominica!!
Anchored Prince Rupert Bay near the town of Portsmouth, Dominica
Taffrail Log (nm)
3200.0nm Some finesse by the Captain - a detour for science and Sargassum! - helped get the last few nautical miles in on the taffrail log!
Marine Debris Observed last 24hrs
Several pieces successfully Dip netted and many more observed -a large piece of a bucket with plenty of algal growth, a Christmas ornament, and other fragments of various sizes and colors, and a large plastic beam of some sort nearly a meter long that we failed to dip net, but we could read a message in bold san serif font - “PLEASE RETURN TO SWEDEN IF FOUND”.
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs
Massive windrows of Sargassum continued to capture our attention throughout the morning and necessitated a very short neuston tow.
Where to begin today?! After our 3-week transatlantic crossing, early this morning, Cramer pushed on westward and the silhouette of Dominica slowly rose up on the horizon under a somewhat cloudy sky. Our first sighting of the island was from 28 nautical miles out, and the silhouette slowly grew bigger with lush, mountainous peaks charging up to the sky. At about 0800, as we approached Dominica, a picture perfect rainbow stretched across the sky and ended on the peak of one of the mountains. Promoters of Dominica as the “nature island” of the Caribbean would have been hard pressed to create a more convincing and inspiring image. The closer we got, the more distinct the island became, the more we could make out the forest cover of the island. I had almost forgotten what the color green looked like. The smell of dirt and trees began to waft out to Cramer as we rounded the northern tip of the island and the breeze blew across the landscape and over the water.
Around 1300, we anchored in Prince Rupert Bay a short distance from the beaches that line the shore in Portsmouth. We were greeted by several fruit vendors in their small boats, and they threw some complimentary passion fruit on board. There is nothing like the taste of fresh passion fruit to make you realize that you really have arrived at your long-awaited Caribbean island destination (of course, the hot sun was a nice reminder as well)! Soon after we anchored, crew and students alike enjoyed our first swim call of the trip. That was a weird feeling; being around water every day, all day
for 3 weeks, but now finally being able to swim in it. Everyone leaped in (with crew taking shifts as monitors) from the allowed sections of the ship (including the bow sprit!) with zero hesitation. The “pool,” as our chief mate, Sarah, called it, was only open while the captain was ashore clearing in with customs. Everyone enjoyed the chance to frolic in the water and get a reprieve from the heat of the sun.
Afternoon class consisted of poster presentations-the culmination of students’ oceanographic research carried out on the crossing. For 3 weeks, each student gathered data related to their specific hypotheses and prepared their analysis, results and conclusions. From Megan’s bathymetry of the ocean floor to Emma’s tracking of the distribution Halobates in their different life cycles to Heather and Chris’s projects on plastic distribution, size and type along our cruise track, there was an enormous amount of fascinating information covered. Other projects included Becca’s examination of environmental factors related to sightings of mega fauna (seabirds, dolphins, and flying fish to name but a few), Missy’s research on changing sea surface temperature, Zach’s research on the influence of light (day vs night, moon phase and cloud cover) on zooplankton migration patterns, and finally my project on the relationship between zooplankton biomass and chlorophyll-a concentrations across the cruise track. Each student worked very hard on these projects and the poster session was a great success.
Tonight, we move into a schedule of anchor watches and eagerly anticipate our explorations of Dominica starting with a group field trip tomorrow.