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Summer Study at Sea

SEA Semester: Pacific Reef Expedition

Contribute to a new body of knowledge… Chronicle the state of coral reefs in the remote Pacific Ocean. Participate in oceanographic research while making an epic 2,600-nautical mile passage across the Equator from Tahiti to Hawaii. Retrace historic voyages of Polynesian migration, mastering time-tested navigation methods that rely on the sun, stars, and moon. Visit some of the most remote island atolls in the world to document the effects of environmental change.

Overview: Summer 2020 | Tahiti > Hawaii

Voyage Map

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Admissions Deadline: Rolling admissions

What?

This field-based summer study abroad program for all majors will explore the changing Pacific Ocean environment through science and leadership lenses, including a rare chance to study remote, pristine coral reef ecosystems up close.

Where?

Cruise Track: Pape'ete, Tahiti » Honolulu, Hawaii
Destinations: Pape’ete > Rangiroa > Caroline Island, Kiribati > Kiritimati > Honolulu

When?

April 20 - June 24, 2020

April 20 - May 20: Required Online Coursework
May 23 - June 24: At Sea

Program Highlights

• Make an open ocean passage & Equatorial  crossing
• Conduct snorkel-based reef surveys
• Gain hands-on sailing and leadership experience
• Participate in original data collection and authentic research

Who Should Apply?

This program is ideal for any undergraduate with an interest in the oceans. We welcome students of all majors to apply.

Program Description

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Skills Gained

  • Critically analyze and interpret authentic oceanographic and reef survey data
  • Function as an essential crew member through demonstrated proficiency including scientific deployments and snorkel survey techniques
  • Effective team membership and leadership
  • Communicate scientific data through visual representation and oral presentation

Coral reefs support some of the richest diversity of species on the planet, and yet they are now threatened by climate change and other human impacts. After completing initial coursework online, you’ll join the SSV Robert C. Seamans in Tahiti to set sail on an epic 2,600-nautical mile passage across the Equator to Hawaii. You’ll retrace historic voyages of Polynesian migration, using navigation methods that rely on the sun, stars, and moon, to visit three distinct island atolls: Caroline Island, Rangiroa, and Kiritimati. There you’ll conduct snorkel-based photographic and visual surveys of the local corals, fish, and invertebrates to document the effects of environmental change.

This program is for any student interested in exploring the changing Pacific Ocean environment through hands-on research and leadership experience at sea, and is a rare opportunity to contribute to a growing body of knowledge about the health of remote coral reefs.

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Academic Credit

Pacific Reef Expedition carries 7 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Course Descriptions

Nautical Science (200-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Learn the fundamentals of sailing ship operation, in preparation for direct application at sea. Navigation (piloting, celestial and electronic), weather, engineering systems, safety, and sail theory. Participate as an active member of the ship’s crew on an offshore voyage.

Practical Oceanographic Research (200-level, 4 credits)

(Previously titled Practical Oceanography II)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
Introduction to oceanographic research. Design a collaborative, hypothesis-driven project following the scientific process. Collect original data. Conduct analysis and interpretation, then prepare a written report and oral presentation.

Syllabi

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How to Apply

  1. Complete an application form
    Apply online. (Note: the application fee is waived for students from affiliated institutions. Contact your Admissions Counselor for the code!)
  2. Submit two writing samples (500-750 words each)

    List your full name on each. Submit via email to admission@sea.edu or fax to 800-977-8516.

    1. Two-part essay (500-750 words): Why have you chosen to apply to SEA Semester and what do you expect to gain from your experience? How will the SEA Semester program to which you're applying (The Global Ocean, Oceans & Climate, etc.) complement your education? Be sure to address both questions.
    2. Academic writing sample of your own choosing (2-4 page excerpt if longer than 4 pages). This should be a reflection of your best written work from a recent course, and on a topic applicable to your SEA Semester program of interest (science, history, environmental studies, literature, etc.). Please include your name and the context of the sample (course title and brief description of the assignment). Poetry or college entrance essays may be submitted only as a secondary sample.
  3. Request and submit transcripts
    Official college transcripts are required for all applicants. E-transcripts must be emailed to admission@sea.edu. Hard copies must remain sealed and be sent directly from your institution to:

         SEA Office of Admissions
         P.O. Box 6
         Woods Hole, MA 02543

    High school transcripts are required for students who have not yet completed two years of college. They may be unofficial and submitted via email to admission@sea.edu or by fax to 800-977-8516.
  4. Submit two (2) undergraduate academic references
    Both should be from undergraduate level instructors; at least one should be from an instructor (i.e. professor, academic advisor) who has taught you within the past year. We also welcome additional references (i.e. coach, academic, personal, etc.). The online application will provide a link to email the reference form to your professors directly. If you require a PDF version, please click here.
  5. Schedule an interview with your Admissions Counselor
    Interviews may be conducted over the phone or in person, depending on the Counselor’s schedule. Topics of conversation may include life at your college/university, academic and extracurricular interests, transition from high school to college, your expectations for life at SEA, and how you learned about our program. The interview is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions about SEA.
  6. Submit the Student Participation Approval Form to the appropriate authority (study abroad office or academic advisor) on your campus
    This form is accessible through our online system and ensures that you go through the appropriate channels at your school for off-campus study approval (if applicable) and credit transfer. If you're not sure who to contact on your campus, ask your SEA Admissions Counselor.

​Apply for a Passport: Please note that all SEA Semester students must have a valid passport - NOT a Passport Card - before joining the program.

Apply for Financial Aid: If you plan to apply for need-based financial aid, download a financial aid application (pdf) and submit it with your application for admission.