Day 19 |
Apr 12, 2011

At sea

By Olga Stavrakis, Anthropologist

Co-ordinates: 5° 29´N, 10° 17´ W (at 9:37 GMT)
Weather: slightly overcast

Another languid restful day at sea! The morning was warm and a bit overcast, which reduced the heat somewhat and made it more comfortable on the outer decks. I was pleased to have the morning free to sit and chat over tea in the Observation Lounge.

At 10:00, Hans-Peter Reinthaler, Botanist, gave a fascinating presentation on the diversity of species on this earth. Using the exceptional visuals that typify his presentations, he raised the question of diversity and survival. How many species do we need to survive? Is there a threshold number of losses which, if reached, will endanger us as a species?

He did not answer the question, but it set everyone thinking and we continued to discuss the issue well into lunch. The question becomes even more significant when we consider that we are not even aware of the many species that share the earth with us.

Just before the end of his talk, Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist, announced apologetically that there were some dolphins off the starboard bow. They turned out to be Long Snouted Spinner Dolphins.

At teatime, I joined the fun for Team Trivia, which has turned into quite a ritual on this voyage. Today it was our Geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo’s turn to provide the quiz. Since the quizzes are each created by our staff, they are naturally slanted toward our personal lecture topics, which makes the whole exercise sort of a like taking classes again. He surprised us this time, however, by focusing on the oceans. The highest score was 17 out of 20 right.

At 5:00, Robin Aiello gave an excellent presentation on the West African fishing industry, which is caught between the needs of the local people for food and the pressure that commercial fishing puts on marine life. Her visit to the fish market at Elmina in Ghana helped her connect the dots between the sea life and the industry itself.

The day ended with the usual recaps and a preview of our planned excursions in Freetown, Sierra Leone, our destination for tomorrow.