SEA Currents: News
SEA Semester in the News
CAS Students Sail the Pacific for Science
American University News
By Patty Housman
What a way to spend your summer vacation—sailing halfway around the world to study the spectacular Phoenix Islands in the Pacific Ocean, one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth.
And the best part—it’s all for the advancement of science.
Two CAS undergrads, Devin Kuhn (BS neuroscience ‘20) and Jacob Atkins (BS mathematics and economics ‘20), are taking part in an eight-week SEA Semester program named Protecting the Phoenix Islands. Along with 24 undergraduate students from universities across the United States, Kuhn and Atkins are sailing on a tall ship and conducting scientific research to contribute to a growing data set of this largely under-studied region.
READ THE FULL STORY
We were woken up at the extremely early hour of 6:30 in the morning. We then quickly ate and did our chores and then headed onto the bus. We traveled for about an hour until we reached Plymouth MA: the home of Plymouth rock. However, we were not just there to see the rock in the ground, we were also there to be on a whale watch. We waited in line for what felt like forever and then aggressively boarded the boat to secure the “best” seats.
Growing up in the small state of Rhode Island I fell in love with the ocean immediately. In the ‘Ocean State’ the closest beach is no more than 30 minutes away. Luckily for me the closest beach is right down the road. With having access to the ocean for the majority of my life I have learned to appreciate it and treat it with the upmost respect just like I would any human. The sad truth is however that our oceans are suffering from so many stressors that it is taking its toll on not only small islands countries such as Kiribati, but also pretty much every coastline throughout the world. I knew my involvement in this program would open my mind up to not only the South Pacific but the diverse biodiversity amongst it and the people who inhabit it.
The countdown has already begun: “Five days,” everyone says. Still, reality has not yet set in that we will go our separate ways. Even with this realization, everyone is still upbeat: I hear the laughter when I wake up, I see the smiles at the lunch table, I feel the love of my watch, and I see everyone hard set on getting work done.
As this is our last Sunday at SEASCape, we had many options for activities to participate in during the day. We began with a wonderful breakfast at 9:00 am of eggs, bacon, coffee, and English Muffins. Some of us had the opportunity to tie dye if we had previously disliked our first tie dye shirts, and a few others decided to join in by tie dying their own shirts.
Today, all 25 of us woke up bright and early at 7:30 A.M. and started our day! During our daily watch meetings, we learned a new bend, which is when you tie two pieces of ropes together, called the Sheet Bend. Then, we started our academic day with Dan the man’s Oceans and Societies class, where we learned about the relationship between slavery in the Caribbean and the ocean, along with the history behind slavery itself.
Throughout all our previous blog posts, we have introduced you to many different aspects of this ship. One part of the community which deserves further exposition is the reading community that has developed on this ship. I suppose it was predictable, but it never occurred to me given the lack of reading during the shore component. Because of the lack of internet, books have become the predominant form of entertainment on the ship.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has awarded a 2017–18 Career Development Grant to Capt. Sarah Herard, of Sea Education Association. In addition to her work at SEA, Sarah is pursuing a Masters in Training and Development at Central Michigan University’s Global Campus. Sarah is currently in Belfast, Maine, where she’s one of the project coordinators for the SSV Corwith Cramer Major Maintenance Program.
AAUW Career Development Grants help women advance in their careers. For the 2017–18 academic year AAUW awarded a total of $3.7 million through six fellowships and grants programs to more than 250 scholars, research projects, and programs promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education, having awarded more than $100 million in fellowships, grants, and awards to 12,000 women from more than 140 countries since 1888.
Woods Hole continues to exceed my expectations. These past nine weeks with the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) have been fun, but very demanding: coring 30 centimeters (cm) of soil, hugging trees, and clipping vegetation. Not to mention, the bug bites! Regardless, this was the adventure I was seeking.
It’s two months into Cramer MMP, and we’ve finally reached the point where we are beginning to reassemble the ship, rather than keep taking her apart. Things are slowly but surely coming together, thanks to the hard work of the crew.