Students Study Coral Reef Ecology on Tall Ship Ocean Research Voyage

November 23, 2021
C 301 Class Photo on shore

For Immediate Release: WOODS HOLE, MASS. — This fall, 18 college undergraduates are sailing on an ocean research voyage to study human impacts on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. They are enrolled in Caribbean Reef Expedition, an extraordinary study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association (SEA). During the coming weeks, these young people will conduct guided field research at sea sailing through the Caribbean on a cruise track beginning and ending in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.

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. 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 sustainability 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's campus in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole for five 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 an additional week in St. Croix, USVI where students conducted reef research. While on shore, students observed strict health and testing protocols to achieve a Covid-free “bubble” prior to boarding the ship.

The students boarded the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA’s state-of-the-art 134-foot brigantine, on Nov. 22nd. 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 2022 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 our online press kit.

About Sea Education Association (SEA)
Sea Education Association is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate, gap year, and high school ocean education. For 50 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 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. In 2018, the National Maritime Historical Society presented Sea Education Association with the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Maritime Education.

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | |

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