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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Caribbean > Caribbean Islands
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Old 10-24-2012
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Host a Scientific Expedition!

Hi Sailing World!

Are you searching for something new and exciting? A huge learning experience? A chance to have an impact on science and education? Perhaps some cruising with a non-sailing goal in mind? Host a scientific expedition on your ship!

Sorry for the long post (and cross posting), but I want to get as much information out there as I can!

I am a biologist working on a study of the Arachnids of the Caribbean. This is a very large international project that is taking place over a period of at least 5 years. So far we have made trips or plans for trips to all of the Greater Antilles Islands: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica (coming 2013). However, one of the really big limitations for us is visiting all of the hundreds of smaller islands in the Caribbean. We are searching for boats of any sort who are cruising in the Caribbean and are interested in hosting a small group of scientists aboard their ship.

Here are our needs:
1) Any size and any type vessel cruising anywhere in the Caribbean (excluding the large islands in the North).

2) Space aboard for 2 (possibly more?) people.

2) A small area inside or out where we can sit at a table (while anchored) and look at stuff in microscopes.

3) Space for minimal equipment (2 large duffel bags).

4) A willingness to anchor for at least 2 days on each island visited.


Here is what we are willing to offer:
1) A wealth of natural history knowledge of the Caribbean. Just think of us as your personal nature guide.

2) We are really good cooks!

3) We are even harder workers and willing to help crew the boat (limited experience but we are fast learners).

4) We are a fun time! (Not all scientists are boring)

5) If you have kids we are happy to do some education exchange.

6) Our budget for the project is pretty tight (nobody wants to fund scientific research anymore), but we are willing to pay for reasonable costs while we are aboard. (ie Anchorage fees, Cruising fees, Food and Beverage, fuel (other costs? ie satellite)).


Here is just a little bit about us and our goals (also visit www{dot}islandbiogeography{dot}org and be sure to check out our blog on the site, you can also follow us on Twitter @ CaribbeanBio, and on Facebook @ CaribbeanIslandBiogeography):

The Caribbean is a hotspot of biodiversity
The Caribbean archipelago consists of no less than 7000+ islands stretching over 4000 km. Many, perhaps most, of these islands harbor some species that live nowhere else in the world. Because islands are isolated (surrounded by water) species that manage to colonize them may become immediately isolated from other populations of that species. Whether through changes related to adapting to their new environment, or merely changes that occur at random (for example genetic drift), such isolated populations become, through time, genetically and morphologically distinct from the 'source' population on the mainland. Thus, eventually, new species are formed on islands through an interplay of colonization and isolation. Archipelagos with thousands of islands have many opportunities for speciation and as a result the Caribbean is one of Conservation International hotspots of biodiversity.
Our project aims to understand how species are formed through the interplay of geology, such as the formation, size, age, and isolation of islands, and dispersal ability, that is the ability of different organisms to travel between isolated landmasses.
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

Regardless of the other red flags this message raised, you lost me totally with the spiders.
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
Regardless of the other red flags this message raised, you lost me totally with the spiders.
Hello DRFerron,

Totally understandable about the spiders, many people have a fear. That is one of the reasons we are also hoping to do educational outreach in local schools. This is something we have done (very successfully I think) in some schools in the Dominican Republic already! Also, all the spiders are preserved for scientific study and shipped back to our home Universities if that is reassuring in any way.

The real reason for my reply, however, was to inquire about your "other red flags" comment. Sorry I'm not a regular on these forums, nor am I a sailor so the reference was lost on me. Are there elements of my post I should be concerned about? I see you are a moderator so perhaps you can direct me on how to improve it if there is something improper or incorrect.

Thanks,
Lauren
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Old 10-24-2012
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

You have to be careful about offering compensation, even in the form of helping with day to day costs, with someone who is not a licensed captain. There are rules about that in most countries.

You should brace yourself for those who will see your request as (yet another) group posting on this forum seeking a free travel adventure in the guise of science, charity, humanitarianism, etc.

The biggest flag for me is your request for donations and dot org designation without providing any evidence of being a registered non-profit for which those donations can be used as a potential tax deduction. Without that you're just asking people to give you money.

Your website is professional enough but that's easy to do and chances are no one is going to contact any of those "participants" you have listed to see if they are legit or you simply took their photos and info from other sites.

At least you didn't ask that someone just give you their boat (which has been done).

If what you are doing is legit, I wish you the best of luck in going about it in this way. It can't hurt to try. However, there are a few who have been here and tried this and didn't hold up to the scrutiny and questions any person asked to give up money or space on his or her boat had every right to ask.
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

Hi Donna,

Thanks so much for the tips, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

To be absolutely clear we are in no way shape or form asking for any monetary donations! The only "donation" we are in search of is in the way of space aboard a boat, which we are willing to work in exchange for so perhaps not actually a "donation" per se.

Everyone involved in the project are working biologists affiliated with universities or research institutions. As odd as this post may appear, we are real people. You can look up our project through the (US) National Science Foundation website created and hosted by the United States Federal government. The project code (DEB-1050187-1050253) can be entered into the NSF database of funded projects, and will provide detailed information on the project from an official government source with Primary Investigators corresponding to those listed on our website. Furthermore, if you have any doubts, feel free to skip this post entirely and respond to us directly via our Universities (all Universities have directories for faculty and staff). ANy one of us would be more than happy to hear from you! I am the Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the project, currently at the University of California at Berkeley, and am generally in charge of everything that the Professors don't feel like doing. I also have independent funding from the National Science Foundation to work on this project which can be verified as well (Project Code: DBI-1003087).

That's a lot of info, but I want to demonstrate as clearly as possible that this is completely legit. We are real people who are really scientists and really looking for a mutually beneficial way to learn from one another.
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

If its a funded project, what's the money being spent on?

Don't get me started on a country with a major budget deficit, spending money to study bugs in the Caribbean. Seems like something we could get back to later. Maybe this has an alternative energy or health care angle.
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

I thought this was an internet gag too, but couldn't t believe that the NSF actually funded a study to determine if "gaydar" was real.

Apparently, it is. Are we a better world now? Holy crap, what our hard earned money is being spent on.

nsf.gov - National Science Foundation (NSF) News - "Gaydar" Automatic and More Accurate for Women's Faces, Psychologists Find - US National Science Foundation (NSF)
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

Caribbiology, if your project were in Brazil, I'd be happy to help out. Don't be discouraged by your reception. Welcome to Sailnet and best of luck.
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaribBiology View Post
Hello DRFerron,

Totally understandable about the spiders, many people have a fear. That is one of the reasons we are also hoping to do educational outreach in local schools. This is something we have done (very successfully I think) in some schools in the Dominican Republic already! Also, all the spiders are preserved for scientific study and shipped back to our home Universities if that is reassuring in any way.

The real reason for my reply, however, was to inquire about your "other red flags" comment. Sorry I'm not a regular on these forums, nor am I a sailor so the reference was lost on me. Are there elements of my post I should be concerned about? I see you are a moderator so perhaps you can direct me on how to improve it if there is something improper or incorrect.

Thanks,
Lauren
What is the objective of this "Study"?
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Re: Host a Scientific Expedition!

This is a little on the technical side but briefly outlines the goals and objectives of the project.

"The Caribbean region is a well-known hotspot of biological diversity, yet the detailed processes that generated this rich species diversity on the islands are complex and poorly understood. This project unites a team of international experts to test hypotheses about how the age and dispersal ability of various species, and the geological history of islands, interplay to generate biodiversity hotspots. The research will also test the importance of islands as sources of continental colonization, and the role of dispersal versus geological land-bridges in island colonization. This will be accomplished by surveying 60 diverse arachnid lineages and their fossil relatives, and by using phylogenetic approaches to analyze patterns of evolutionary relationships, ages of divergence, and patterns of community composition across islands.

A mega-transect across one of the world's most biologically rich archipelagos will transform knowledge of the history of the Caribbean. Many new scientists will be trained -- the project will recruit and train young diversity specialists at multiple institutions, with the central focus at the University of Puerto Rico. These biologists will be trained in the importance of educating the public about biodiversity. The work will generate rich resources for further biodiversity research by making species data, phylogenies, range maps, specimen photographs, databases, and DNA sample data publicly available through the internet and museum depositories."
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