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ESF Students Participate in SEA Semester Program

EFB majors set sail in the Atlantic Ocean
11/29/2017

Alexandra Cormack and Joseph Benz, students at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, are sailing on an ocean research voyage to study human impact on Caribbean coral reef ecosystems.

Cormack and Benz, environmental biology majors, joined students from a range of diverse institutions 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, 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.

Through SEA Semester: Caribbean Reef Expedition, Cormack, a sophomore from Marcellus, New York, and Benz, a senior from Orchard Park, New York, 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 sustainability manage these ecosystems which are vital to both healthy oceans and coastal communities.

After boarding the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA's state-of-the-art, 134-foot brigantine, in Grenada, the students set sail Nov. 26. The 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.