eXXpedition: Shanley’s sea tales and a trip to the salon
17 47.97 N
54 04.76 W
The miles really are beginning to speed by, despite the constant presence of gruelling heat and flat seas. Our skipper spoke the truth when she told us at the midway point that the days would now start to feel shorter and quicker. They are slipping through our fingers, and as the sun rises on Tuesday and we really start to imagine the day and time of our arrival in Martinique, every moment seems precious. Another pod of dolphins accompanies our morning watch, and the sea that before felt neverending now seems to be carrying us ever closer towards land. Seaweed floats by and this morning a land bird alighted on our bow, hitching a ride towards the shore.
Our science continues, and today not only do we trawl, but we have a hairdressing session on deck as the evening sky turns golden. Scissors sterilised, we clip a lock of hair from each of us and deposit them safely in airtight bags. These will be delivered to the Biodiversity Research Institute to be tested for mercury. Mercury is highly toxic, bioaccumulating, and biomagnifying through the food chain. The UNEP Minamato Convention regulates global mercury emmisions, but mercury is now circulating in the environment at three times the level it was pre the industrial revolution. For the majority of people, the main exposure is from contaminated fish, mainly the top predators like tuna, swordfish, and whale. We are interested to see how different our mercury levels are, as each of us has grown up with different diets and in different parts of the world.
It is then our first mate, Shanley, who finishes off the evening with a presentation. It is a real pleasure to hear stories from our mast-climbing koala who has been our stalwart teacher throughout this voyage. She simply glows as she describes her passion for the ocean, and her love of her job as permanent first mate on board Sea Dragon. Shanley grew up by the sea, and has simply never wanted to be apart from it. Even to the extent that when she did find herself living in landlocked mid-US, she found herself driving for hours at a time simply to reach the ocean. She is one of those people who just belongs at sea, and since she found her way onto a boat in the Caribbean, as she describes it, she’s never really been off a boat since. Her passion comes through as she shows us some of the beautiful photographs she’s taken throughout her travels. It has been a joy to be guided through this adventure by her, and to know that even after our eXXpedition ends, she will still be on board Sea Dragon continuing to share her passion with people around the world.
Off the bow, the sun sets, and for the first time, we see a moonbow – bright rings of rainbow colours around the moon as she rises high above our sails. It is a clear night; our watch teams change, and this moon makes a smooth arc across the sky, finally setting in bright orange at around 4am. Another day, another adventure on the Atlantic.
– eXXpedition crew, December 2, 2014