SEA Quest






Check back soon for Summer 2023 seminar topics and dates.

This summer, join a community of high school students from around the world who want to learn more about the sea, make a difference in ocean conservation, and prepare for college academics. The SEA Quest high school seminars are fun, inclusive, and engaging. We meet twice a day online for two weeks.

SEA Writer
Reef diving
Cramer Sargasso Sea

What Will I Need?

There are no academic prerequisites, but the program is taught in English and aimed toward high school students. You only need enthusiasm and the desire to participate! Strong internet connectivity is also a must for this seminar, however, as you’ll need to be able to turn on your screen, share your work, and engage with video and other data. If you do not have good internet access, please contact SEA in advance so we can work with you.

Before each seminar, we will mail everyone in the seminar a SEA Quest-Woods Hole teaching kit filled with appropriate goodies. This will include things like dry biological samples, hardware for experimentation, readings, syllabi, and a journal for writing and artwork.

Do I Get Grades or Credit?

The SEA Quest-Woods Hole seminar is about engagement, experience, inclusivity, inspiration, and exploring a range of perspectives regarding our relationship with the ocean. We provide each student with a certificate of completion (awarding “honors,” “high honors,” “pass,” or “incomplete”) and a letter explaining what you did, which will help with college applications. For your portfolio, you will end each seminar with a science research project and an article in our online magazine. After the seminar, SEA Quest faculty will be happy to write you a reference for college or internships. During each seminar, our professors and guest speakers regularly discuss their paths and offer advice on future studies and careers.

Program Structure

SEA Quest provides students with a unique opportunity to understand the process of marine research at sea and to apply those to their own unique ecosystems in their neighborhoods. In this program, students will virtually participate, through SEA logbooks and interactive video sessions, in our scientific voyages focused on near-shore and offshore ecosystems. The waters that we sail are important habitats for rare and endangered species – whales, turtles, seabirds – along with countless other marine organisms. Data analyzed by SEA Quest explorers is part of a cumulative data set of SEA voyages compiled over nearly 50 years, and it provides critical annual monitoring of these marine protected areas for key stakeholders. These data include biodiversity information, sea temperature and salinity, chemical nutrient measurements, sediment samples, visual and acoustic recording of whales and vessel traffic, and more. Scientific studies are given human background context with discussions of the development of policies behind the marine protected areas we visit. Students return home with a broader sense of the ocean’s importance to our planet and the need to preserve this precious resource for future generations.

Each two-week seminar has three mini-courses that all students take together: “Oceanography,” “Oceans and Society,” and “Nautical Science.” We meet Monday-Friday Eastern Time 10:30-12:30 and 14:00-16:00.  Each seminar features regular breakout rooms, experiments, demonstrations, mini-talks, guest speaker presentations, writing and drawing exercises, and hands-on work with ocean charts and marine science data collected on our ships of oceanography. You should expect roughly 10 additional hours of work and reading outside of our meetings.

Session 1: Plastics and Oceanography

This two-week seminar focuses on ocean plastics and how these pollutants move, degrade, and impact the world’s oceans. Led by oceanographer and plastics expert Jessica Donohue, we will work with the data set of 35 years of microplastic sampling conducted by our SEA ships, including this summer’s cruise through the infamous Pacific Garbage Patch. With Captain Chris Nolan, we’ll study trade winds, ocean eddies, Coast Guard activities in the North Pacific, and marine pollution regulations on shore and at sea. Meanwhile, with writer-illustrator Dr. Richard King we’ll put together an issue of our SEA Quest magazine with an eye toward communication about ocean plastics and what we can do. Our summer 2022 guest lecturers are still being scheduled, but we expect to meet with an activist on ocean plastics from a Pacific Island community; Dr. Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer who is world-renowned expert on plastics; a journalist on plastics in fisheries; and the award-winning art-designer Skye Morét.

Plastic ocean waste

Session 2: Sargassum and Marine Ecology

This two-week seminar focuses on sargassum, a brown macro-algae that creates a unique, drifting habitat in the sea that attracts a variety of marine life and has important connections to Caribbean and North Atlantic marine ecology and biodiversity. We will work with recent data sets from our voyages aboard the Corwith Cramer, led by oceanographer and sargassum expert Dr. Jeff Schell. With Captain Chris Nolan, we’ll study the Gulf Stream, nautical charts, fisheries, and regional navigation.

Meanwhile, with writer-illustrator Dr. Richard King, we’ll put together an issue of our SEA Quest magazine with a focus on communicating about ocean biodiversity in the North Atlantic and what we can do. Our summer 2022 guest lecturers are still being scheduled, but we expect to meet with Dr. Sharika Crawford (pictured), an environmental historian on sea turtles at the US Naval Academy; Rebecca Kessler (pictured), senior editor at

Sargasso Sea
Rebecca Kessler
Dr. Sharika Crawford
Sargassum Fish

Seminar 3: Coral and Climate

This two-week seminar, focused on coral reefs and climate change, will use the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in Kiribati as a case study and interdisciplinary center point, a location where our SEA ship visits regularly to contribute to information for this enormous marine protected area. With oceanographer and reef expert Dr. Heather Page, we’ll work with reef transects in the Caribbean and the South Pacific, identify species, and understand the impacts of global warming and atmospheric carbon on reef systems, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification.

With Captain Chris Nolan, we’ll study ocean currents, tides and sea level rise, island geography, marine protected areas, and how shipping impacts reef systems. Meanwhile, with writer-illustrator Dr. Richard King, we’ll put together an issue of our SEA Quest magazine with an eye toward communicating about our human relationship to coral, about climate refugees, and what we can do. Our summer 2022 guest lecturers are still being scheduled, but we expect to speak with Kareati Waysang, an education coordinator in Tarawa; a local climate expert from Kiribati; Shreya Yadav (pictured), a coral expert and interdisciplinary scholar at the University of Hawaii, and a coral reef expert from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and a science writer on coral reefs and oil spills, and Yui Takeshita from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

Shreya Yadav

Student Testimonials

“When taking a closer look at different specimens from the sea, I learned new and interesting concepts on how to identify certain organisms. Being able to learn these skills even while virtually is an experience of a lifetime. Dr. Schell did an amazing job teaching us about all of the different species of the ocean.”

“I learned a lot from the guest speakers in a short period of time and it gave me insight to what I want to study in college.”

“Dr. King led us through a nature writing [novel] called Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson. Reading this different style of writing not only expanded my writing skills but also expanded my mind to another point of view.”

“I think that all of the professors did a fantastic job creating a welcoming environment. The group projects allowed us to feel socially supported. These projects allowed us to get to know each other even through a virtual environment. In terms of academic support, all of the professors were welcoming and were accessible for any assistance with assignment or other concerns.”

Crame and dolphins

SEA’s High School Summer Seminars Provide Online Portal to the Ocean World

This summer, high school students interested in the world of ocean studies don’t have to travel to the oceanographic research hub of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. It’s coming to them.

After a successful launch in 2020, Sea Education Association (SEA) is once again offering SEA Quest, an online program designed for high school students from around country – and the world – who share a passion for ocean science, want to make a difference through ocean conservation, and prepare for college at the same time.

The program draws on leading experts in oceanography, marine ecology, maritime history, and nautical science, and is headed by Dr. Richard King. King is SEA’s visiting associate professor of maritime history and literature and the author of the Ahab’s Rolling Sea, A Natural History of “Moby Dick.”


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