Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs

Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

February 02, 2020

Why Should We Care?

Julian Murray-Brown, UNC Wilmington


Above: S-290 Students out to breakfast at Betsy’s Diner in Falmouth; Below: Sunset from Woods Hole, taken from beside the Rachel Carson statue

Why should we care? Why should we care about a piece of plastic floating on the other side of the world in an ocean we have never heard about? What’s the big deal if some obscure species of fish ceases to exist? If you are like me or any of my shipmates, questions like this invoke a gut response. A response of passion and love for our natural world and all things in it. However, at the same time this gut response makes it incredibly difficult to articulate why others should also care. All of us here at SEA are incredibly like-minded in this aspect: it is issues like plastic pollution and climate change which drive us through this program and motivate us to make a difference. When we are asked what is significant about climate change it is nearly impossible to keep our emotions out of the debate. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but if we want to communicate the importance of such controversial topics with people who do not share the same emotional connection that we do, then we must take our emotions out of it. Our time on land has consisted of debating, talking and working through these issues. Everyone here has incredible personal insight to give and different reasons for wanting to make a difference. Even during our weekend trips into the coffee shops of Woods Hole it is incredible to listen to the level of conversation around us.

Around us are people who have dedicated their entire lives to the very topics we are all so passionate about. People in Woods Hole are literally making passing conversation about topics like discovering a bacteria which can metabolize pharmaceuticals out of our waste water. How do the ideas, discoveries and emotions which this place catalyzes take flight and reach the attention of those outside of our little oceanographic bubble? This human connection has been at the basis of most of our class discussions.

In our Maritime History and Culture class, we have read about traditional Pacific islanders and their immense connection with the ocean and natural world. The connection these people had with the sea drove them to protect it and honor it, yet it is a connection which fewer and fewer of us have today. In our Oceans and Global Change course we have learned how truly connected we all are by one great ocean. How the actions of one person on the other side of the globe can dramatically affect someone else’s way of life. This connectedness shows how important action is, and not from just one country or peoples, but from our global population. In Conservation and Management we have learned about the ways we try and govern the natural world, and place a sense of order on the most dynamic environment on earth. We have explored the policies placed by governments and looked at their true purpose (whether it is truly environmental or more political), we have seen what has worked and what has not. Finally, in Leadership in a Dynamic Environment, not only have we learned nautical sciences, but we have learned how to answer hard questions, self-evaluate, and become a better leader. Steps towards being able to answer as well as communicate the importance of why we care.

As you go forward I challenge you to think about these questions: Why do you care about our environment? What about it is important to you? Why should someone else care? How can you communicate your answers to someone else?

- Julian Murray-Brown, UNC Wilmington

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: None • (0) Comments


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!



Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.