SEA Currents: News
June 09, 2016
SEA Semester in the News:
Three ways the Northeastern community is addressing ocean plastics pollution
By Greg St. Martin
World Oceans Day is Wednesday, and events held around the world will celebrate the planet’s oceans and raise awareness of the ways society can honor, protect, and conserve them. This year’s theme of “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” is meant to promote the prevention of marine plastic pollution.
Students, faculty, and staff at Northeastern are engaged in numerous research projects across many disciplines and other efforts around climate change, marine science, and urban coastal sustainability—particularly through the Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts. Here are three ways members of the Northeastern community are already focused on ocean plastic pollution.
May 27, 2016
We love to hear updates from SEA Semester alumni and former shipmates. Their continuing adventures and achievements never fail to impress us, as evidenced by Darcy Cogswell (C-260).
Last week, Darcy graduated summa cum laude from Trinity College with a degree in classical studies. Darcy was the class of 2016 salutatorian, and her twin sister, Jami, was valedictorian!
April 27, 2016
It’s been well reported in this blog and elsewhere: vast quantities of plastic and microplastic debris (pieces smaller than 5 mm) have been observed and sampled in oceans around the world. But accurately measuring it, on a global scale, is still a major challenge.
SEA’s Dr. Kara Lavender Law, Research Professor of Oceanography, is doing just that. Working with colleagues at other institutions, she’s employing a rigorous statistical approach to standardize a global dataset and thus better estimate the size and scope of the problem – and gauge the danger it poses to marine life.
April 06, 2016
Sea Education Association/SEA Semester® is 2016 NSB Public Service awardee.
Today the National Science Board (NSB) announced that Sea Education Association (SEA) would be bestowed with its 2016 Public Service Award.
This esteemed award honors exemplary public service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. SEA is the sole recipient of the Public Service Award this year.
February 18, 2016
SEA Semester® in the News:
“Studying Out on the Open Ocean”
By Amy Laskowski | Feb. 18, 2016
Siya Qiu didn’t know the difference between a jib and a bowsprit when she decided to spend a semester studying aboard the research vessel SSV Corwith Cramer. But after a six-week voyage that took her from Spain’s Canary Islands to St. Croix in the Caribbean, Qiu (CAS’17), a marine science major, soon became well versed on what it’s like to live at sea. Read the full story.
February 10, 2016
Floating plastic debris in the ocean may be more hospitable to some marine animals than originally thought, according to a new study co-authored by a SEA Semester alumnus who gathered samples aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans during the 2012 Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition.
The researchers found that the presence of barnacles on large plastic debris creates a more sustainable long-term habitat for rafting species to take hold and thrive on otherwise slippery surfaces, such as spherical fishing buoys commonly found drifting in the oceans.
January 11, 2016
SEA Semester® in the News:
“Setting sail to study one of Earth’s last coral wildernesses”
By Erikah Haavie | Jan. 11, 2016
Sam Hill ’16 didn’t see as many neighbors as he’d hoped during his 1,600-mile summer sailing trip.
“From Hawaii to the equator, there was nothing but a turtle and a pod of whales,” said Hill, a computer science major from Richmond, Va.
As part of an eight-week Sea Education Association program, “Protecting the Phoenix Islands,” Hill spent six weeks sailing aboard the 134-foot-long Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Robert C. Seamans, from Honolulu to the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati and on to American Samoa.
January 07, 2016
Dr. Kara Lavender Law, a SEA Semester research professor of oceanography, co-authored a new study entitled, “A Global Inventory of Small Floating Plastic Debris,” published with international colleagues on December 8, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters. This study finds larger quantities of tiny plastic bits floating in the world’s oceans than previously estimated. But even this amount accounts for only 1% of plastic that likely enters the ocean annually, and scientists are still working to understand where the rest of it ends up.
The majority of data for this study came from plastic samples collected and analyzed during decades of SEA Semester voyages. Here, Kara discusses what these findings mean for future scientific research directions and anyone trying to make sense of the massive amounts of plastic entering the world’s oceans every year.
December 10, 2015
Microplastics—tiny fragments less than 5 millimeters in size—are now the most abundant form of ocean debris, prompting growing concerns from the public about the array of potential impacts on marine ecosystems. For SEA Semester faculty and students, one key line of research is better understanding the “Plastisphere,” the communities that colonize and thrive on these floating plastic islands.
A newly published scientific paper co-authored by SEA Semester Professor of Oceanography Dr. Erik Zettler reports an important finding: The make-up of the Plastisphere microbial communities appears to differ significantly on a global ocean basis. Notably, their analysis revealed genetic “signatures” that distinguish microbial communities found on plastic floating in Atlantic Ocean gyre environments from those found in the Pacific Ocean.
November 18, 2015
Massive quantities of Sargassum, a distinctive brown seaweed, have flooded Caribbean shores in recent years, setting off local concerns about economic impacts on fishing and tourism. The country of Trinidad has even declared these so-called inundation events to be a natural disaster. But little is understood about the ecological implications of Sargassum invasions or how they should be managed. New research published by Sea Education Association provides first-hand observations in support of these questions.