Heading Towards Bermuda

Update from Sailors for the Sea's OBR!

Read our OBR, Anna's firsthand account about how her first two weeks on SEA Semester's tall ship SSV Corwith Cramer have gone. She has been sailing towards Bermuda from the Bahamas researching the floating seaweed, Sargassum along the way. 

Stay Golden: Steady Footing

Sunday, April 24, 2017, 1130
Position: 27°44.4’N x 077°46.4’W
Heading: 085 degrees True
Speed: 6.6 knots
Weather/Wind: Sunny, 25.5 C, Force 3 winds 
Description of location: 50nm north of Little Abaco Island, Bahamas

rain, tall ship, sailing, foul weather gear

One week at sea aboard the Corwith Cramer and I am still tumbling around above and below deck as we sail from Nassau into the North Atlantic Ocean. In just a few short days, I’ve been able to experience how the floating seaweeds Sargassum natans and Sargassum fluitans spend their entire lives at sea.

seaweed, tall ship, sailing, marine research

S. natans and S. fluitans are the only two seaweed species that spend their entire lives floating in the open ocean, and just happen to be the two species of Sargassum that my group is studying. It’s incredible to think that seaweed can survive in a wide range of conditions-many of which I’ve felt over the past few days- and still serve as a habitat for many other organisms such as shrimp, crabs, eel larvae, and hydroids in particular.

tall ship, science, marine research, seaweed

This simple fact gives me faith that our crew will be able weather any storm and learn the ropes quickly-literally. I like to imagine the Corwith Cramer as my Sargassum clump in which I have formed a symbiotic relationship, along with my fellow shipmates and crew. We are learning about the nautical lingo, cleaning, sails, ropes, and weather in order to take care of the Cramer so she can sail her best for us. Everything out here on the ship is a give and take, and finding our balance is truly a challenge. From here on out, we can continue forward and hope for steady footing for the rest of the voyage.

Stay Golden,
Anna

Stay Golden: The Name Game

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 1940
Position: 28°54.2’N x 068°16.0’W
Heading: 072 degrees True
Speed: 7.3 knots
Weather/Wind: Cloudy, SxE Force 4
Description of location: 216nm SW of Bermuda

tall ship, sailing, dolphins

In some way, shape, or form, nicknames seem to be one of the first signs of a friendship or a relationship. Some are practical, some are silly, and some have a you-had-to-be-there story behind the name. During our first few weeks together, most students and even a few crew members have earned nicknames, including myself. Mine happens to be “mom,” which has now grown to be “soccer mom” because of my extremely competitive nature. A few nicknames are based off of the person’s actual name: Sargassum Matt (Matt), named for the mats of Sargassum floating in the sea, Ridge Bridge (Ridge), ABBA (Annabelle), Channon (Shannon), and Vanooboob (Vanessa), while others areeven sillier: Ma-goobs (Maggie), Ahoy Mady (Maddison), Abuelo (Julian), and Dolphin Bait (Callie). It’s safe to say SEA class C273 is definitely one big family by this point.

tall ship, sailing, ropes

C273 is all about nicknames, so much so, that even Sargassum natans VIII has one too: “S’nate.” S’nate is a form of the species S. natans, and one of which my research group is very interested in studying. Until recently, the only species and forms of Sargassum found in the Sargasso Sea were S. fluitans III and S. natans I. Differentiating between these two species is usually relatively simple: S. fluitans III has thorns on the stems and wide leaves, while S. natans I does not have thorns on the stems and has thin leaves. However, the illusive and deceptive S’nate does not have thorns, but it does have wide leaves.

seaweed, sargassum, tall ship, marine research

Confused? You’re not the only one. S’nate is usually found in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Gyre coming from the North Equatorial Recirculation Region (NERR), but we collected a few clumps and fragments in the Antilles Current and South Sargasso Sea during the C273 cruise. While it is well known that clumps of Sargassum circulate through the gyre, S’nate made its first recorded reappearance in the Sargasso Sea about three years ago. Uncertain if S’nate reappeared or if it was just incorrectly labeled as S. fluitans, there is quite a bit to learn about this form of S. natans. Currently, my research group is performing DNA analysis on all three forms, which will hopefully lead to more information about S’nate when our results come in later this month!

Less than one week until we reach Bermuda!
Stay Golden,
Anna

Stay tuned for more updates from our Onboard Reporter, Anna!

In collaboration with Sea Education Association (SEA), Sailors for the Sea is offering an award for a SEA Semester student to become an Onboard Reporter. SEA is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education through their study abroad program. As a recipient of the new Sailors for the Sea Onboard Reporter award, Anna Brodmerkel is chronicling ocean health issues observed during her voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, one of SEA’s tall sailing ship research vessels, in the Atlantic Ocean. Anna is a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill double majoring in Public Policy and Environmental Studies with a minor in marine science.