Rowan Students Participate In Rescue of 49 Haitians at Sea

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Two Rowan University students returned to the United States recently following an unexpected educational experience as part of a semester-long research project at sea.

Erin Moratelli, 21, of Mays L

Back in U.S. after remarkable experience

Two Rowan University students returned to the United States recently following an unexpected educational experience as part of a semester-long research project at sea.

Erin Moratelli, 21, of Mays Landing, and Megan McKinney, 22, of Brooklawn, both senior biological sciences majors, were two of 22 students and 11 crew members aboard the Corwith Cramer, a vessel owned and operated by the Sea Educational Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Mass. (www.sea.edu ), who rescued 49 people in the Caribbean just north of Port Antonio, Jamaica on March 9. The Rowan students and their colleagues came upon a disabled and dismasted vessel carrying 49 Haitians -- 35 adults and 14 children -- who had been traveling to Jamaica. The 25-foot boat had been at sea for five days.

"This was a life-changing event for all of us. While my entire experience with SEA Semester was incredible, being a part of helping these people is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life," Moratelli said.

McKinney said, ?I am very proud to have been involved in helping 49 men, women and children who were in great need. We always heard how impoverished the country of Haiti is, but it's a completely different thing to see it first hand. It has been a real eye opener.?

The students and crew of the Corwith Cramer worked with the United States Coast Guard, Jamaican Defense Force and health experts to coordinate the rescue and safe delivery of the Haitians to Jamaica. The survivors boarded the Corwith Cramer and were provided with food, water and shelter during their trip to Jamaica.

The students were in the fifth week of a six-week voyage that began in Key West, Fla., on February 9 and returned to Key West on March 19. The Corwith Cramer was sailing in the Caribbean as part of the sea component of SEA's semester-long program, SEA Semester, and was deploying oceanographic equipment at the time it came upon the disabled vessel.

"The entire SEA family could not be more proud or thankful for the incredible efforts of our students and crew. The successful completion of this humanitarian mission has provided our organization with the educational experience of a lifetime. Our continued good thoughts and best wishes are extended to our new Haitian friends," said John K. Bullard, president of SEA.

The SEA Educational Association (SEA) was founded in 1971 as a nonprofit educational institution and provides challenging multi-disciplinary academic programs ashore and at sea. Its 12-week SEA Semester program for undergraduates integrates marine science, maritime literature, history, public policy and practical seamanship with deep-water scientific research. Nearly 7,000 students have completed the program since its inception. For more information, please visit www.sea.edu.

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