Rowan students spend SEA Semester studying coral reef ecology on tall ship ocean research voyage

Rowan students spend SEA Semester studying coral reef ecology on tall ship ocean research voyage


This fall, Rowan University students Elizabeth Thompson ‘18 (Biology, Biomedical Art & Visualization) and Niclas Grant ‘17 (Biology) are sailing on an ocean research voyage to study the human impact on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. Through SEA Semester: Caribbean Reef Expedition, a study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association (SEA), Thompson and Grant, together with other students with a variety of academic interests, will conduct guided field research both on shore in Grenada and at sea sailing through the Lesser Antilles to San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Coral reefs face many threats, including overfishing, reduced water quality and rising temperatures and lower pH caused by climate change. Effective solutions require an understanding of the economic, political and cultural landscape, as well as ocean and climate science. SEA Semester: Caribbean Reef Expedition examines diverse tropical marine ecosystems and the impact of human action upon them. Student research considers how local, academic, governmental and international organizations and businesses are working together to conserve and sustainably manage these ecosystems, which are vital to both healthy oceans and coastal communities.

The class of students from a range of diverse institutions arrived in early October at SEA Semester’s campus in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for six weeks of on-shore preparatory coursework. With full access to SEA faculty, guest lecturers and other world-renowned scientific institutions within the village of Woods Hole, students designed original research projects to be completed at sea. The shore component continued with two additional weeks at St. George’s University in Grenada.

After boarding the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA’s state-of-the-art 134-foot brigantine, in Grenada, the students set sail on Nov. 26. The ship will serve as their home, classroom and laboratory for the next four weeks. All students become full working members of the ship’s crew, sharing responsibilities for standing watch, processing oceanographic samples, navigating by the stars and participating in round-the-clock operations. Perhaps most importantly, students will learn to challenge themselves and will cultivate new skills in leadership, teamwork and field research.

The Caribbean Reef Exploration program will next be offered in Fall 2018 and welcomes undergraduate students of all majors with an interest in the oceans

Track the voyage on the SEA Semester blog through Dec. 23.

Download photos and access more information about SEA Semester through the online press kit.

About Sea Education Association/SEA Semester®

Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. For 45 years and more than one million nautical miles sailed, SEA has educated students about the world’s oceans through its Boston University-accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester. SEA/SEA Semester is based on Cape Cod in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and has two research vessels: the SSV Corwith Cramer, operating in the Atlantic Ocean, and the SSV Robert C. Seamans, operating in the Pacific. In 2016, SEA was honored with the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for its role in promoting the public understanding of science and engineering.