SEA Currents: News
How often do you think about the ocean? As inhabitants of a coastal commonwealth and a historic maritime city, we do so perhaps more than the average American. The more compelling question is “how do we think about the ocean?” How would we describe it? Beautiful and mysterious? Likely. Awe-inspiring? Perhaps. How about imperiled? Damaged? Hopeless?
Thursday, June 8 marks the 26th annual World Oceans Day, an idea that emerged from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The World Oceans Day website describes the annual event as providing “a unique opportunity to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans.” It notes that our oceans provide much of the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, and help to maintain the climate that sustains us. Our oceans also inspire us. For one day in June, we are encouraged to acknowledge and celebrate these gifts, and to commit ourselves to improving ocean health through both activism and our choices as consumers.
Clare McClellan ’18 was determined to find “something completely different” for her junior-year-abroad experience. She found what she was looking for on a 134-foot Brigantine sailing ship in the South Pacific, studying climate change and Polynesian ecosystems and culture.
McClellan joined 25 other undergraduates from throughout the country on a 2,300-mile voyage from Samoa to New Zealand aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, under the auspices of the Sea Education Association, an environmental education and research organization based in Woods Hole, MA.
McClellan, an Environmental Studies major from Portland, OR, began her studies last August at SEA headquarters in Woods Hole, where she and her classmates took courses in oceanography, Polynesian history, and seamanship. McClellan also did some preliminary work on two topics for her individual research projects, one on coastal protection measures in Tonga as a result of sea level rise and a second on environmental education in Tonga.
Read the FULL STORY
SEA Semester in the News
Drew Sophomore Studies Ecosystems and Sustainability in Polynesia
Marina Mozak sails on a tall ship research vessel
December 2016 – Drew University student Marina Mozak bid a temporary farewell to The Forest to spend a semester at sea.
Mozak, a sophomore studying environmental science and political science, was among 25 students who studied ecosystems and sustainability in Polynesian island cultures aboard a tall ship research vessel, the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Other schools represented on the trip included the University of Virginia, Wellesley College, Vassar College and Villanova University.
The program, run by the Sea Education Association, began in August with preparatory course work in Woods Hole, Mass. From there, Mozak and her peers traveled to American Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and disembarked for a final time in Auckland, New Zealand last month. Mozak also wrote about life on a ship via the program’s blog, SEA Currents.
Read the FULL STORY.
This October, the students of SEA Semester S-269 (Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems) voyaged through Polynesia, interacting with local communities just one month before the release of the Disney feature film “Moana.” Students spent two days with the people of Nakorova village, on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji, learning traditional sailing from the same people who advised on and inspired the magnificent sailing scenes depicted in “Moana.” Our gracious host, Jiujiua “Angel” Bera, is featured in a short Moana featurette.
Nerves are on edge around the ship. The ship’s company has transformed from loyal shipmates to literal backstabbing looms in the shadows. Every word spoken is carefully analyzed for lies by the listener, attempting to decide if they are being sent to their death. Tensions are a result of Seamans’ real life version of the board game Clue currently in full swing. Participating shipmates were assigned a place, a “weapon” (e.g. story book, triangle, rubber glove), and a target to wack before New Zealand.
On October 28th 2016 we started doing JWO (Junior Watch Officer) and JLO (Junior Lab Officer) which was honestly pretty terrifying but it was also an amazing opportunity because honestly in the world of sailing when will you ever have complete control of the deck. A few days ago I was given the opportunity to take the con and call the shots. Right off the back I was ordered to set the tops’l, one of my favorite sails, to hopefully allow us to get more wind.
It wasn’t long ago that Ben-gineer told us to savor our last few tastes of the tropical weather as we keep sailing south. Soon, he warned, the sweet relief from the sweltering heat of Suva would turn to shivers, and the constant hum of bunk fans would be replaced by the rattle of radiators and the chattering of the helmsman’s teeth. It’s still spring as far as the Kiwis are concerned, and today we got our first real feel for what that’s going to mean for us as we get closer to New Zealand.
We are now less than 500 nautical miles from our final destination in Auckland, New Zealand and I’m starting to feel a little weird about it. There are so many things to be looking forward to back on land, but it is becoming very apparent at just how well we’ve settled into life on board: Mama Seamans has become another home. Coming in not knowing a thing about how to actually sail a boat, I never thought I would get this far in five weeks.
Legend has it that Halloween Night is a time when the spirit world and the mortal world collide, and both are thrown out of balance. I’ve always found that concept compelling. This year it has become unusually relatable, as I am also perpetually unable to balance. As I desperately clambered toward the leeward rail this morning to offer Neptune another pre-digested hecatomb, I contemplated the many peculiarities native to the topsy-turvy funhouse that is the SSV Robert C. Seamans.
Another beautiful day out here on the Big Blue. We are now well into our journey from Suva to Auckland and have settled into our daily routines, which means we have more time and energy to do other things in our free time. Today was also a day of rest which meant we didn’t have class this afternoon—really nice to have that extra time! People used it to go aloft, work on Halloween costumes (you’ll hear more about the festivities tomorrow), work on our projects and papers, do ballet (Dr Professor Mariner Sir Ben Harden taught a class on the science deck and it was hilarious) or just relax.