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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: pipa

November 17, 2016

“The young man and the SEA Semester” - Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) student profiled

SEA Semester

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.

Read the entire story.

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September 27, 2016

Brown University student pursues marine biology and medicine

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News

Sailing for Science
By David Orenstein
Brown Alumni Magazine

Peter Baek ’19 is a premed student, a scientist, and an explorer—thanks to a Disney movie.

“Ever since watching Finding Nemo with my grandpa and dad,” he says, “our love for fish and the ocean blossomed as every shelf around the house became occupied with aquariums.” Looking after all those fish inevitably led to an interest in science, Baek explains, and then to oncology: “The passing of my grandpa from laryngeal cancer transformed my interest in science to something deeper—the desire to pursue a career in oncology in dedication to my grandpa.”

In the years since high school, marine biology and cancer medicine have become inseparable to Baek. He’s learned, for example, that the tentacled aquatic animal bugula produces a chemical that has shown promise in fighting cancer. Before arriving at Brown last year, he spent summers learning about cancer biology in labs at the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health.

Read the full story.


Categories: News,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topic: pipa • (0) CommentsPermalink

September 21, 2016

Stony Brook University students recount Phoenix Islands adventure

SEA Semester

SEA Semester in the News
SoMAS Students Participate in SEA Semester Journey
Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences News

Alexandra Bonecutter, a student in the Environmental Studies program with a Marine Science minor, and Ruthann Monsees, a student in the Coastal Environmental Studies program Sustainability Studies program, were part of a SEA Semester voyage that was recently featured in The New York Times.  According to an email distributed by SEA Semester, the voyage “discovered good news regarding coral health in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in July, 2016”

The message continues:

PIPA is one of the last remaining coral wildernesses on Earth, about which little is known. An expanse of ocean about the size of California, it is the largest – and deepest – UNESCO World Heritage site.

Accompanied by 21 other undergraduates, SEA Semester faculty, and researchers from the New England Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Alexandra and Ruthann gathered data on the health of the islands’ coral reef ecosystem in order to recommend policy implementations to the PIPA management office in Kiribati – all while sailing as active crewmembers aboard our tall ship research vessel!

Ruthann and Alexandra were on voyage class S-268 Protecting the Phoenix Islands.  According to Ruthann, “We sailed for six weeks from Honolulu to the American Samoa, focusing on the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA); a Marine Protected Area belonging to Kiribati.”  This area, she says, “is recognized as an area with the most “pristine” coral reef system” that “has shown remarkable resilience in the face of climate change, El Nino bleaching events, and anthropogenic effects.”

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July 14, 2016

Awaiting Neptune’s Judgment

Ruthann Monsees, C Watch, Stony Brook University

SEA Semester

Yes, blue skies are great, but nothing beats a star filled sky with an unobstructed horizon. This is one of the many joys of Dawn Watch. C Watch, in particular, has been large and in charge during many exciting early mornings on the Robert C. Seamans. We stood the first dawn watch, traversed the ITCZ during dawn watch, and last night launched an ARGO float before the sunrise.

ARGO floats are an economic way to gain information about temperature, salinity, and depth in all over the world’s oceans. Ours was deployed at 2˚N to be swept up in the equatorial waters. During the day we all signed it and then at 0500, we unceremoniously chucked it off the port side. It will float and sink for the next 2-3 years, collecting data, until it finds a final resting stop on the bottom of the ocean or is washed ashore. For anybody out there interested in tracking our ARGO float, you can Google it along with its serial number FO5503.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topic: pipa • (1) CommentsPermalink

July 13, 2016


Tom Diaz, B Watch, Bowdoin College

I grasped the latch. Slowly I pulled, being careful to keep my coffee in hand. As I pulled the hatch door open I found Peter just on the other side. His collar was slightly twisted and his hair matted; his glasses were just barely clinging to his face, his eyes dreary. He struggled into the lab - behind him Panyu followed. He shuffled past me. Soon enough he reached one hand into his pocket, one into the other one. Little by little he pulled out the wonders from within; a tissue used, an airline ticket slightly crumpled. He tossed them into the trash.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topic: pipa • (0) CommentsPermalink
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