SEA Semester
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Sea Education Association

About SEA

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is a private, nonprofit research and higher education facility dedicated to the study of all aspects of marine science and engineering and to the education of marine researchers. Established in 1930, it is the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the U.S., with staff and students numbering about 1,000. The Institution is organized into five departments, four interdisciplinary institutes—ocean life, coastal ocean, ocean and climate change, deep ocean exploration—the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Ocean Research, and a marine policy center. Its shore-based facilities are located in the village of Woods Hole and a mile and a half away on the Quissett Campus. The bulk of the Institution’s funding comes from peer-reviewed grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation and other government agencies, augmented by foundations and private donations.

In an interdisciplinary atmosphere that nurtures discovery, WHOI scientists, engineers, and students collaborate to explore the frontiers of knowledge about planet Earth. They develop theories, test ideas, build seagoing instruments, and collect data in diverse marine environments. Working in all the world’s oceans, their broad research agenda includes: geological activity deep within the earth; plant, animal, and microbial populations and their interactions in the ocean; coastal erosion; ocean circulation; ocean pollution; and global climate change.

Ships operated by WHOI carry research scientists throughout the world’s oceans. The WHOI fleet includes three large research vessels (R/V Atlantis, R/V Knorr, and R/V Oceanus), coastal craft including R/V Tioga, the deep-diving human-occupied submersible Alvin, the tethered, remotely-operated vehicle Jason II, and autonomous underwater vehicles such as the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) and SeaBED.

WHOI offers graduate and post-graduate studies in virtually all areas of marine science. There are several fellowship and traineeship programs, and graduate degrees are awarded through a joint program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or by the Institution itself. WHOI also offers other outreach programs and informal public education through its Exhibit Center (see pages 14 and 15) and summer tours. The Institution has a volunteer program and a membership program, WHOI Associates.