It’s about 9 o’clock on a beautiful Maine summer evening, a plum sunset fading to cobalt blue over the pointed firs. And while the rest of the cruising community does what it does at about this time — packs off to bed at “cruiser’s midnight” or catches some twilit stargazing — the wet lab that occupies the aft compartment of the schooner Alca i is quietly bustling.
Thew Suskiewicz, a 36-year-old marine ecologist who specializes in macro-algae and kelps in particular, gently lifts a piece of what the typical sailor would call “seaweed” from a plastic tray.
“We’ll start with Porphyra. That’s going to be trace. ... Ceramium, also going to be trace. Polysiphonia, big one, 39. … Oh, look, Ptilota. We do have a Ptilota!” he says, holding a maroon leafy thing on his fingertip. “That’s a distinctive subarctic species that used to be much more abundant.” Beside him, Danielle Frechette, 35, a marine biologist who is researching salmon in Quebec, Canada, for her Ph.D. and is here to attain necessary credits outside her area of study, records every name and number on a sheet of paper taped to the cupboard over the work table — genus, sometimes species, weight, length.