Research aboard SEA vessels has contributed to over 40 scientific publications in oceanography, environmental science, biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and other fields.
SEA Semester Marine Biodiversity and Conservation: Improving Stewardship Capacities through Field based Undergraduate Education
John Jensen, SEA (presenter); coauthors Amy Siuda, Sea Education Association; James McDonald Western Michigan University; Caleb McClennen Wildlife Conservation Society; Linda Amaral-Zettler Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory; Erik Zettler Sea Education Association
Presented at the 2013 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites: "Protected Areas in a Changing World", Denver, Colorado • March 11-15, 2013
Research Abstract: Click for Details
The goal of SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MBC) is to make a significant and continuing contribution to improved ocean stewardship by developing a new generation of leaders in ocean science and public policy dedicated to understanding, preserving, and restoring our global ocean commons. Funded by NSF and the Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, the MBC curriculum integrates science, conservation policy, and place-based management through a field-based study of the potential of the Sargasso Sea as a high seas protected area. The new curriculum combines instruction in classical and cutting-edge techniques in marine biodiversity research, practical tools from conservation, and emergent concepts in placebased management. Initial analyses of first year results suggest a 34-point increase in conservation science and policy content knowledge, improved capacities in written and oral communication, and --most important--an increased engagement and interest among the strongest students in careers related to coastal and ocean stewardship.
Designing a Seabird Observation Protocol for the Sea Education Association
Michael B. Schrimpf*1, Erik R. Zettler1, and K. David Hyrenbach2; 1Sea Education Association, P.O. Box 6, Woods Hole, MA 02543 USA, email@example.com; 2Hawai’i Pacific University, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA
Presented at the Pacific Seabird Group annual meeting, Portland, OR.
Research Abstract: Click for Details
The Sea Education Association (SEA) is dedicated to marine exploration, understanding, and stewardship, and to the study of humanity's relationship with the oceans. SEA offers high school and undergraduate students an interdisciplinary curriculum, with on shore and at sea components aboard oceanographic sailing school vessels. Cruises are primarily conducted in the tropical and subtropical eastern Pacific Ocean, the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. Studies of seabirds on these cruises have been limited in the past, primarily due to constraints of identification for inexperienced students, especially in tropical – subtropical areas of generally low bird abundance. We wish to augment these past efforts by developing standardized survey protocols and identification guides that will allow students to collect meaningful distributional data. Visiting scientists have also participated in some of our past cruises, providing opportunities to collect traditional transect survey data while introducing motivated students to topics in seabird biology and conservation. Our primary goals are to: (1) determine what level of taxonomic identification and ancillary data are both required by researchers and feasible for students, and (2) design a protocol that will enable the collection of survey data valuable for collaborative projects. Another goal of this presentation is to explore whether members of the Pacific Seabird Group research community are interested in joining future SEA cruises.
Sweepstakes Reproductive Success of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus Argus) in the Sargasso Sea
Pivor, J.; Daniel, J.; Siuda, A. N.; Bucklin, A.; Blanco-Bercial, L.; Amaral-Zettler, L.; Zettler, E.
Research talk presented at the ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography) meeting in New Orleans, LA, Feb 2013.
Research Abstract: Click for Details
The Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is widely distributed across the Atlantic Ocean and the fishery is highly economically important. Long-range dispersal of the long-lived planktonic larvae and consequent complex and variable recruitment patterns have generated persistent difficulties in prediction of recruitment and design of effective management strategies. Similar to other highly- fecund and highly abundant marine species, P. argus has lower genetic diversity than expected from abundance and census population size. One explanation may be the Sweepstakes Reproductive Success (SRS) hypothesis, which poses that high variance in individual reproductive success results in smaller effective population size. In particular, SRS predicts less genetic diversity in larval cohorts compared to adult spawning stocks. Life stage and genetic analysis of phyllosome larvae of P. argus collected from the Sargasso Sea has revealed spatial patchiness and genetic differentiation among life stages of similar cohorts. Time/space patterns of population genetic diversity and structure allowed us to test the SRS hypothesis for P. argus and provide new understanding to inform management and policy strategies for this important fishery.
Amy Duarte, an alumna of PEP (Partnership Education Program) presented a poster at the national Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) meeting held in Seattle, Washington from October 11-14, 2012. Amy’s poster was based on a research internship she did in collaboration with scientists at SEA, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Marine Biological Lab:
“Analysis of Plastic in the Sargasso Sea and Vibrio Interactions with Plastic” by Amy Duarte1, Erik Zettler2, Linda-Amaral Zettler3, Tracy Mincer4
(1Humboldt State University, CA, 2Sea Education Association, 3Marine Biological Laboratory, 4Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA)
April 10, 2012
SEA scientists and students are authors on a new publication in Geophysical Research Letters. Proskurowski. Morét-Ferguson and Law are SEA scientists, and Meyer did this work as an SEA alumnus while enrolled at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.
Kukulka, T., G. Proskurowski, S. Morét-Ferguson, D.W. Meyer, and K.L. Law. The effects of wind mixing on the vertical distribution of buoyant plastic debris. GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L07601, 6 PP., 2012, doi:10.1029/2012GL051116
SEA Education Association received a National Science Foundation collaborative research grant “Microbial Interactions with Marine Plastic Debris: Diversity, Function, and Fate”. This 3 year project is being directed by Tracy Mincer (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Linda Amaral-Zettler (Marine Biological Laboratory), and Erik Zettler (SEA). The research will use a combination of culturing, molecular biology, and microscope imaging to explore the diversity and function of the unique microbial community that develops on plastic marine debris. The field component of this proposal takes advantage of SEA’s ongoing plastic debris research and is built around independent projects by undergraduate students participating in SEA Semester research cruises in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Featured Research: Plastics at SEA
Click here to go to the Plastics at Sea North Atlantic Expedition website
Read the press reports about plastics research at SEA
Boston Globe's Green Blog
Since 1971 SEA students and faculty have been sailing and studying the oceans, towing nets to collect planktonic organisms from the surface waters. In addition to microscopic plankton, scientists have found these nets also collect small pieces of floating plastic debris. It was not long before this plastic "trash" was of scientific interest itself.
For more than 20 years SEA has been carefully measuring the abundance of plastic marine debris in the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea on the sailing oceanographic research vessels SSVs Westward and Corwith Cramer, and also in the North and South Pacific since the arrival of the SSV Robert C. Seamans in 2001.
More than 6150 surface net tows have been carried out from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean Islands, collecting 64,000+ plastic pieces that have been handpicked from net samples. On cruises from Hawaii to the west coast of the U.S. samples have been collected in the much-popularized "Great Pacific Garbage Patch".
Plastic has emerged as a major contaminant in the ocean, yet the most basic questions about its sources, abundance, distribution, and fate in the open ocean remain largely unanswered.
Marine debris poses significant threats to marine life, such as:
injury or death to large marine mammals due to entanglement by large debris
ingestion of smaller plastic debris by seabirds, turtles, and even zooplankton
transport of marine organisms to regions where they may be invasive
plastic materials attracting some chemical pollutants from the ocean, while releasing other harmful compounds into the water
By understanding where in the ocean the plastic collects and the oceanographic reasons why, SEA is taking the first step in tackling these threats to living marine resources.
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation.