SEA Currents: Aug 2016
SEA Semester in the News
Sailing the high seas for adventure and research
McDaniel College News
Before heading to Woods Hole, Mass., and boarding the tall ship he would help sail to Ireland, Ian Kasaitis ’18 had never been farther from his Maryland home than New Jersey.
But the lore of adventure coupled with encouragement from Biology professor Katie Staab fueled his application to SEA (Sea Education Association) Semester and what would be a life-changing experience.
“I had never been on an airplane let alone a ship in the Atlantic,” says the junior Biology major from Crofton, Md. “I wanted an adventure and to get off land and to do research.”
This past week SEA President Peg Brandon joined 114 other ocean leaders in sending a letter to campaign representatives for Secretary Hillary Clinton and Mr. Donald Trump seeking clarification on what they will do if elected President to protect our public seas, ocean economy and maritime security (see letter that follows). The aim is to get a response by early September on how the next President will act on key coastal and ocean issues. These include the fight against illegal pirate fishing, establishment of marine protected areas – like National Parks in the sea - and coastal adaptation to sea level rise and other climate challenges.
The letter also calls for appropriate levels of funding for frontline agencies involved in exploration, conservation and maritime law-enforcement including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Ocean leaders who’ve signed this letter include CEOs of seafood and other businesses, directors of major science labs, aquariums and diver organizations, well known ocean explorers, authors, artists, marine conservationists, members of Congress and former heads of EPA and NOAA.
SEA Semester in the News
In summer at sea, adventurous student continues a personal academic journey
By David Orenstein
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Peter Baek traces his inspiration as a scientist, pre-med student and explorer to a beloved movie.
“Ever since watching ‘Finding Nemo’ with my grandpa and dad, our love for fish and the ocean blossomed as every shelf around the house became occupied with aquariums,” said Baek, a rising sophomore at Brown University. “My fascination with fish ultimately led to my interest in science as I continued to get deeper into the water chemistry and biology of fish keeping. The passing of my grandpa from laryngeal cancer, however, transformed my interest of science to something deeper — the desire to pursue a career in oncology in dedication to my grandpa.”
We like to say SEA Semester students adventure with a purpose. Nowhere is that more true than on our recent expedition aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans to the rarely visited Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), in the island nation of Kiribati.
SEA Semester students, crew and scientists, led by SEA Professor of Oceanography Dr. Jan Witting, together with researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the New England Aquarium, sailed 1,600 miles across the Equatorial Pacific from Honolulu to reach the remote archipelago, one of the last coral wildernesses in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The sleek grey shape gliding into a patch of calm water next to our ship confirms the bow lookout’s call just a moment before. A shark! And there it is, off our science deck, dorsal fin sticking out of the water, languidly, gracefully moving past us. You can count four remoras clinging to its back, the hangers-on to this top dog of the pelagic, open-ocean ecosystem. For that is where we are, two days out of PIPA, nearest land a tiny island in the Tokelau group and American Samoa five hundred miles away.
What day is it? Where are we? What happened?
I thought this high seas adventure would never end- I didn’t want it to. Let’s turn around and just sail back to Hawai’i. There are plenty of other islands we can stop at, if we wish to stop at all. Let’s live off of coconuts and swim with the bumpheads like the good ‘ole days. Let’s do science and unleash the secrets of the deep. Let’s look up to the constellations and share our stories. Set the Fish! We’ve got miles to make! We’ve got places to be!
Projects are due soon! The main salon was filled with laptops every time I walked past, and Morgan, our steward had to kick us out for meals. Within a few minutes of the tables being cleaned, everyone was back to work, like nothing had ever slowed us down. As the deadlines loom, we all want more than anything to be done with our projects and spend more time with each other.
Dear Mom and Dad,
Before you continue reading, stop. Take a deep breath in and exhale fully. (Dad, you take two! I know how you fret.) I am wholly content.
The 2016 Phoenix Islands Expedition prepares to draw to a close. I and my crewmates boast the calloused hands and sun marked skin from almost six unparalleled weeks of calling the SSV Robert C. Seamans home. At the forefront, we are guided by our magnificent Captain and Chief Scientist, Rick Miller and Jan Witting respectively; I cannot help but draw a constant stream of inspiration from the fierceness and stoic elegance within their collective wisdom.
After a while, we all charge through our arsenals of songs and distractions - anything to get through lookout on the bow. One after another we belt out snippets of lyrics and old tunes we used to know; we fidget back and forth, jump up and down; we even at times donate our sunglasses to the depths below - Neptune always accepts graciously I’ve been told. Eventually however we all find ourselves at the mercy of our own thoughts.