Possible talks by a Science Officer

Here we describe possible talks of a natural history nature that might be presented to passengers of a cruise ship.  The aim would be to stimulate interest in the destinations that the cruise was visiting and also to increase understanding of the ocean and atmosphere through which the ship was passing.  Any scientist, depending on their expertise, would naturally have a different set of talks that they might feel are important.  The goal would be to develop a set of talks that most passengers would likely find interesting (subjects they think they already know something about) and talks on subjects most passengers aren’t even aware of, but that they will find interesting.

The relevant talks would vary with the cruise itinerary.  A talk on the formation of fjords wouldn’t be relevant to a Caribbean cruise.  And a talk on hurricanes wouldn’t be relevant to cruises in the Baltic Sea.

Below is a first pass of some plausible topics for talks for a few parts of the world where we have been (and some we haven’t).

Cruises in the Tropical Pacific

  1. The formation of Atolls.
  2. The Pacific Ocean and its currents.
  3. Plate Tectonics of the Pacific region.
  4. Coral reefs, their formation and micro environments.
  5. El Niño and the climate of the Pacific Ocean.
  6. Daily weather and climate of the south Pacific islands.
  7. The migration of the Polynesians and the origin of the flora of the islands.
  8. Pelagic birds you are likely to see while cruising.

Cruises around Indonesia

  1. Volcanic features of Indonesia. How these volcanoes evolve and decay.
  2. Sea level during the last Ice Age and the importance of the “Wallace Line”.
  3. Why the Komodo and other Indonesian Islands have both both wet and dry areas. The climate of Indonesia.
  4. Singapore’s natural attractions.

Cruises to Greenland, Iceland and other glacial areas

  1. The formation of fjords and other glacial landforms.
  2. Plant succession on glaciated landscapes.
  3. The Aurora, the midnight sun, and the polar night sky.
  4. The high-latitude Atlantic Ocean, icebergs and arctic ice.
  5. The volcanic landscapes of Iceland.

The Caribbean Sea region

  1. Hurricanes, their origins, seasonality and impact.
  2. Basic geography of the Caribbean islands. Volcanoes, Karst and everything between.
  3. Climate and ocean circulations of the Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic.
  4. The climate and vegetation of the Caribbean Sea and western Atlantic islands.
  5. Common birds, reptiles, and mammals of the Caribbean islands.
  6. Specific nature-information is justified for each port stop (except possibly Bimini and Half-Moon Cay).

Cruises to Central America

There are many cruises that pass along the Pacific coast of Central America, often going through the Panama Canal. We select one here as an example of the material that would be relevant to the cruise.

All of the ports on this cruise justify natural history talks.
  1. Why are so many Caribbean Islands dry? Where are all the palms on Aruba?
  2. How does El Niño affect the Panama Canal and what limits the ships passing through the canal? Would a sea-level canal be better?
  3. The physical geography of Costa Rica. Climate, mountains, forests, parks.
  4. The volcanoes and earthquakes of Central America from Mexico to Panama.
  5. The climate of Central America. Gap winds, rain shadows, dry seasons and mid-summer droughts.
  6. The wildlife and vegetation of dry forests along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Costa Rica. Specific information for each stop between Costa Rica and Puerto Vallarta.
  7. Mangroves and epiphytes and their unique adaptations.
  8. Novel birds of the Central American region.

Western Mexico

This is a short cruise but a number of natural history talks are justified.
  1. The climate of Baja California and western Mexico.
  2. The geography of the Gulf of California; islands, tides, how it formed.
  3. The biotic regions of western Mexico with a focus on southern Baja California.
  4. Natural aspects of the region from La Paz to Los Cabos. Unique aspects of each stop.
  5. The region of Loreto and the nearby Sierra Gigantea.
  6. the wet side of the Gulf of California; Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.
  7. The different flora and faunas across the Gulf of California. Why? What to keep an eye out for.

Cruises to Antarctica

  1. The formation of glaciers, fjords and icebergs.
  2. Antarctic weather and climate.
  3. The differences between the North and South Poles.
  4. Wildlife of the Antarctic; birds, mammals and fish.

Cruises in the Mediterranean

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  1. The oceanography and climate of the Mediterranean Sea (salinity, the straights of Gibraltar and more).
  2. The flora and fauna of the Mediterranean Sea region and its islands.
  3. Plate tectonics and the volcanic landscapes of the Mediterranean Sea region; earthquakes and volcanoes (Vesuvius, Stromboli, Etna and Santorini).

Cruising the Amazon River

  1. The Amazon Basin, its rivers, at their seasonal cycle.
  2. Black and white waters of the Amazon.
  3. Fish of the Amazon and the flooded forest.
  4. The Amazonian lowland rainforest.
  5. Weather and climate of the Amazon Basin and along the Amazon River.

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