SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
January 30, 2020
Williams-Mystic S20 Offshore Blog 3
Another exciting couple of days at sea here on the Corwith Cramer!
Yesterday we had a sketching workshop aboard Corwith Cramer, led by Sketch Biologist and Williams-Mystic alumna Abby McBride F04. Abby's work as a science communicator combines her love of biology and sketching. Even students who were unsure at first were soon eagerly sketching sails, coils of rope, and each other. Following class, B watch gathered with Abby for a small group tutorial, where they continued sketching and discussing the uses of drawing and careful observation.
Wednesday night was another starry one, and since we turned to head toward the Virgin Islands, the Southern Cross was in view. As students rotate 6 hours on watch and 12 hours off watch, they get to see different times of the day and night, including some (like 3 am!) that they aren't typically outside working. While we take turns sleeping, the ship never sleeps, and at least one watch of 8 or 9 people are awake steering, looking out, sailing, collecting scientific data and checking on all the systems that keep us comfortable.
Today we completed our third and final science Super Station. The station was shallow enough (700 m) to get a sample of cold tan mud from the bottom. We also collected water from 12 different depths in the ocean, which we are currently analyzing for pH and chlorophyll-a, among other properties.
Yesterday during our science station, we lowered Styrofoam cups and a wig head down more than a mile (1,682.3 m) while collecting temperature and salinity data. We had carefully decorated the cups with sunsets, zooplankton, and mythical creatures before sending them down. Afterward, the cups were the size of thimbles due to the pressure in the deep sea. Some of our cups may even be placed on display at Mystic Seaport Museum's new exhibit on sailor art opening June 2020!
Today's academic class was an interdisciplinary look at "Ways of Knowing" taught jointly by Lisa, Kelly, and Abby. We examined what it means to "know" something: who has knowledge, how it is acquired, and how we use it, with personal examples from each instructor's discipline. (The opening discussion question: "Before high-speed underwater cameras, how did we know what a live whale looked like?") The class was interactive, with a kinesthetic exercise, drawing, and several discussions.
During class, we were fortunate to observe an enormous bait ball off the port side of the ship, first spotted by the swarm of seabirds (brown boobies and shearwaters). As we approached we could see fish flying and flopping and feasting on the tiny baitfish, and even saw a shark cruise by to eat the bigger fish. The food web in action!
In nautical science class, we practiced gybing several times. As we gybed, many of the terms and tasks that seemed so foreign just a few days ago are starting to feel natural as we get more comfortable sailing the ship.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for our next update!