Aiden Ford is Sailors for the Sea’s Onboard Reporter for the spring 2016 semester while she is studying aboard Sea Education Association’s tall ship Corwith Cramer.
An eye opening start
While in Puerto Rico, some shipmates and I decided to do a beach sweep to add data to our plastics project. I was so flabbergasted by the image of so much trash next to the vision of a beach vacation get away. It is unclear how much of the garbage was marine debris washed up on the beach, or post consumer waste from the island itself. Either way, the potential for it all to be swept up by the ocean is there, just waiting for the next big wave.
Better as we go
In the Dominican Republic, local fishermen are involved with a start-up ecotourism project that would seek to grow a snorkelable reef in this bay that would replace overfishing their cove. Though the project is mainly made up of about 34 fishermen, other locals are resisting the project and the change, due to the fear of a loss of income, despite the precautions the project has taken in making sure the reef would provide revenue from tourists. It brought to light a very real issue: without finding a way to get locals and conservation projects to see eye to eye, the fear of not being able to provide for their families will always make local fishermen resist conservation.
Important to remember
Jamaica was by far the most beautiful island in my opinion, mostly because the high altitudes of the mountains and the rainfall allows for an amazingly biodiverse rainforest. Despite the beauty of the rain, the forest, and the river, it is important to remember that the sweet rain which makes the greenery flourish is the very same rain that takes runoff with it on its path to the ocean. Sprayed nutrients are washed away by the chorus of raindrops that splatter off banana tree leaves and feed the rivers. Discarded plastic wrappings are caught in the trenches where rain is funneled once it hits the ground. Septic waste is leached through groundwater and it too mixes with the ocean. Here I learned that without working with the populations that are embedded in the sea we sail, the problems marine waste causes will never be fixed.
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, Aiden Ford is chronicling ocean health issues observed during her voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, one of SEA’s tall sailing ship research vessels. Aiden is a College of the Atlantic student currently studying off campus with SEA Semester’s Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean program in spring term 2016. This program gives undergraduates of all majors the opportunity to investigate and compare sustainability issues across several multifaceted Caribbean islands, including Cuba.