SEA Currents: featured
Vassar student finds “something completely different” for jr. year abroad
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.
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SEA selects Front Street Shipyard for SSV Corwith Cramer major maintenance
After thorough search and evaluation, Sea Education Association has selected Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine for SSV Corwith Cramer’s upcoming major maintenance period.
“We are excited to be working with the staff and management at Front Street Shipyard… for planning and implementation of this important work period for SEA’s senior flagship,” said David Bank, SEA Director of Marine Operations.
An extensive work list is planned, including maintenance on the rigging, engineering systems, galley and living spaces. The work will take place from June through August 2017.
SEA President Peg Brandon expressed thanks to the SEA Marine Operations Department, and to the SEA Ship Committee for their efforts in this project: “The Cramer is now approaching 30 years of age, so it’s important that we continue to invest in her so that she may continue to fulfill our mission at SEA.”
Karen Merritt is winner of Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship award
Karen Merritt, public health educator, street photographer and SEA Semester alumna (W-98), has been selected to receive this year’s Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship award. Karen plans to use the award to investigate and document the “invisible history” of 16th and 17th century mercury and silver mining in Spain and Mexico, which she describes as one of the “longest continuous maritime transport endeavors in history.”
About the Award
Established in 1987 in memory of Armin E. Elsaesser III, master mariner, educator and adventurer, who taught Maritime Studies at SEA Semester and sailed as crew aboard the SSV Westward, the fellowship provides an opportunity for recipients to follow a dream that has been elusive because of the demands of work or study. Fellowship winners actively investigate a marine or maritime subject of personal interest. Projects must be unrelated to their current professional activities and reflect a creative and independent approach to the pursuit of knowledge. SEA alumni, faculty, staff, former employees and crew are eligible. Awards range from $3,000 to $7,000.
Stony Brook University students share lessons from SEA Semester expedition to Phoenix Islands
SEA Semester in the News
Sea Change: Students Set Sail for Ocean Research
By Glenn Jochum
Two Stony Brook University students traveled to a remote part of the world this past summer with the hope of contributing to big global change.
Ruthann Monsees ’16, Alexandra Bonecutter ’17 and 21 other crew mates set sail in a brigantine, the SSV Robert C. Seamans, from Hawaii to the Phoenix Islands Protected Area of Kiribati. Their assignment: to study the pristine atolls there and the effects of climate change. The ship on which they sailed is operated by Sea Education Association (SEA), which offers the SEA Semester program, an accredited study abroad initiative. SEA is based on Cape Cod in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Ruthann, who grew up on Long Island, hails from Hauppauge, while Alexandra calls Cincinnati, Ohio, home. Despite their disparate geographic settings, these two young scientists were both drawn to the maritime from an early age.
Ruthann and Alexandra met for the first time in a physics class earlier this year. Ruthann told a friend in class she had been accepted to the SEA Semester program and Alexandra overheard her and told her she had been accepted as well.
SEA Semester’s Polynesia voyage is perfect fit for Drew University student
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.
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St. John’s College chronicles transatlantic voyage
SEA Semester in the News
The Fellowship Awakens
By Tim Pratt
St. John’s College News
St. John’s College student Mary Christman was on watch when the Skellig Islands appeared through the haze off the coast of Ireland.
The sight of the rocky islands, made famous in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” was celebrated by Christman and her fellow sailors on board the SSV Corwith Cramer.
Established in the fall of 2013, the Pathways Fellowships Program was created to enable St. John’s students to transition into graduate study or careers that call for special or prerequisite courses. Global Pathways Fellowships are available to Santa Fe campus students for summer study abroad; general Pathways Fellowships are available to Annapolis and Santa Fe students for summer study or attendance at professional conferences in the United States.
Christman applied for the Global Pathways Fellowship last school year as a junior on the college’s Santa Fe campus.
After an essay and an interview, Christman learned she was accepted into the SEA Semester study abroad program. She would be participating in a trans-Atlantic crossing. The goal was to conduct environmental research, collecting and analyzing data along the way.
The prospect of crossing the Atlantic was a bit nerve racking, Christman says, as she didn’t have much sailing experience.
“I went in knowing basically nothing,” she says.
They had just spent nearly four weeks crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
“We all called ‘Land ho!’,” Christman says with a smile.
Christman was on board the 134-foot SSV Corwith Cramer as a result of a Global Pathways Fellowship.
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Fijian boats inspire SEA Semester students & Disney film “Moana”
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.
SEA alumni present Sargassum findings at Gulf & Caribbean Fisheries Institute conference
Recent SEA graduates Maddie Taylor (C-264) and Corey Wrinn (C-257), and former SEA Associate Professor (and SEA alumna, C-142) Dr. Amy Siuda (now at Eckerd College) attended a meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) in Grand Cayman earlier this month to present the results of their research related to drifting Sargassum.
The GCFI is a forum that brings together scientific, government, and commercial stakeholders to share scientific findings to better understand and manage the marine ecosystem of the Caribbean and Gulf region.
Ocean education pioneers Exy and Irving Johnson inducted in National Sailing Hall of Fame
The late Electa “Exy” and Irving Johnson, former SEA trustees and pioneers in experiential ocean-based education, were inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Irving and Exy were married in 1932 after meeting on a transatlantic sailboat passage. As husband and wife, they continued an amazing journey, sailing around the world seven times (!) while teaching crews of young people.
They wrote books and articles and made films about their voyages - Irving’s 1929 adventure as a mate aboard the Peking is captured in a well-known film, “Around Cape Horn”- and inspired generations of ocean explorers. The design of SEA’s first vessel, Westward, was inspired by the Johnsons’ brigantine, Yankee.
Irving served as a founding SEA trustee until his death in 1991,whereupon Exy took his place until her death in 2004. Since 1999, the endowed Exy Johnson Scholarship has supported SEA Semester students from all walks of life. One of Exy and Irving’s sons, Robert, has followed in their wake and served as an SEA Overseer since 2005. For more about this remarkable couple, we refer you to this 2015 article in SEA HISTORY.
“The young man and the SEA Semester” - Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) student profiled
SEA Semester in the News
The young man and the SEA Semester
By Drew Sterwald
Sailing through largely unexplored reaches of the Pacific Ocean aboard a 134-foot ship for six weeks might not float everyone’s boat. But for FGCU senior Alex Miranda it was the adventure of a lifetime, an opportunity that provided hands-on experience few peers will be able to match.
The environmental studies major from Jupiter was one of 23 undergraduates from colleges and universities around the country including Ivy Leagues chosen to participate in a rare summer research voyage. The Sea Education Association/SEA Semester, a Boston University-accredited program based at Woods Hole, Mass., selected the sea-worthy students to gather data on the health of the Phoenix Islands’ coral reef ecosystem and to recommend policy implementations to protect and preserve them. The little-studied Phoenix Island Protected Area, about the size of California, is one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth and is the largest UNESCO World Heritage site.
“How many people get to do research while sailing across the Pacific?” Miranda says. “To be doing this with students from schools like Wellesley and Brown – it was pretty cool to be part of it. We weren’t just passengers. We took classes. We did deep-water sampling. We were crew. We kept watch and steered the boat.”
The marine biologists and students documented enough evidence to show that the islands’ coral reefs — which previous research dives between 2009 and 2012 had found devastated by overly warm water — are not just healthy but thriving and growing. The phoenix-like recovery was so stunning that it was reported in the New York Times.
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