Our OBR's First Stop in the Caribbean - Sailors for the Sea

Our OBR’s First Stop in the Caribbean

 November 27, 2017  | By: Oceana

diving, marine science, exploration

We arrived in Grenada on November 16th, all extremely travel weary, but radiating excitement nonetheless. We are currently stationed at the True Blue Bay Resort in Grenada for our second onshore component, where we are learning to gather data using transects while snorkeling, meeting with Grenadian government officials and conservation NGOs, taking field trips around the island to gain an understanding of the topography and ecosystems, and getting all of our data organized before we no longer have access to internet. The past ten days have been an absolute whirlwind of non-stop movement: a beautiful thing for me. I don’t want to miss a second.

snorkle, marine science, coral reefs

Let me tell you a little bit about this incredible country. Grenada is lush volcanic mountain range, jutting up from the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Grenada is located just above South America at 12.1165° N, 61.6790° W. We are visiting during their rainy season, but some of my dear shipmates suffering from sun kissed shoulders may beg to differ. The island is a major producer of cocoa and nutmeg. These crops are responsible for a large portion of the nation’s economy, not only because they export the product, but also because they attract chocolate lovers from around the world. If you ever have a chance to sample Grenadian chocolate, be careful in doing so… nothing will ever compare.

The locals have been extremely kind to us, especially in answering our questions about life on their island nation. They inform us about some of the environmental challenges they face. At first glance, their massive, densely forested hills look as though they are completely immune to the environmental stressors mankind causes, but upon closer inspection, these issues are all too apparent.  For example, we learn early on that they do not have a recycling program on the island. We also learn of the degradation of the island’s mangroves by pollution and deforestation. This is bad news for the ocean, as mangroves are crucial ecosystems which act as filters for the water running off the island. Mangroves are natural “coastline armor,” which means they hold the coastline in place, and keep it from eroding away. We learn from eco-tour guides, and see with our own eyes, that the reefs here are stressed by storms, overfishing, and pollution. But all hope is not lost.

Grenada, environment, marine science

I have gained an incredible respect for the Grenadians in their conservation efforts. They have had a lot of success in recent years with mangrove restoration projects, and continue to target and work hard to preserve heavily stressed areas. Some of our students actually had the opportunity to help plant mangrove saplings this morning! Grenada has established a Marine Protected Area around a part of their island, where the reefs were destroyed by hurricanes a few years ago. One particularly storm-damaged section of the reef was turned into a sculpture park by a local artist, to encourage new coral growth on the statues. I was particularly excited about the statue of a man sitting at a typewriter, called “The Lost Correspondent.” This statue is featured as the album cover of Eddie Vedder’s “Ukulele Sessions,” my favorite album of all time.

corals, coral reefs, Caribbean

Class C-276 boards the SSV Corwith Cramer tomorrow. You could cut the excitement among our group with a knife. I am sad to leave Grenada, but I have appreciated my time here so much, and I look toward our time aboard with with immense excitement and anticipation for the adventure ahead.

I leave the land for a little while with this lesson: conservation is key, my friends, whether we are talking about conserving resources on a ship, or the delicate ecosystems of the world we live in. Remember to live as clean as you can. The world, our oceans, the reefs, and all things natural and beautiful depend on you to keep them healthy.

I’ll keep you posted!

marine science, coral reefs, scuba, divers, onboard reporter

Next stop: Tobago Cays


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

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, Keiley James 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 Caribbean. Keiley is a Univeristy of Georgia sophmore majoring in Biology.