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ESF Student Studies Sargasso Sea Ecosystem

Andrew Meashaw participates in SEA Semester

College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) student Andrew Meashaw conducted original scientific and policy research to shape ongoing international efforts to protect the Sargasso Sea through SEA Semester (SEA): Marine Biodiversity & Conservation.

The Sargasso Sea is a remote North Atlantic region increasingly recognized for its ecological importance and economic value. Through SEA Semester, students have the opportunity to study this environment, and play a role in safeguarding its future.

Meashaw, a junior environmental biology major, joined a class of upper-level science students in February for four weeks of initial coursework at Sea Education Association's campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Students learned practical shipboard skills, gained essential knowledge about marine ecology, governance and conservation, and designed research projects to conduct at sea.

Following their onshore training, the class engaged in the core of the field-based learning experience: sailing as crew and scientists onboard SEA's tall ship ocean research vessel, the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot brigantine operating in the Atlantic Ocean. During a five-week voyage from Key West, Florida to New York City, the class collected biodiversity data as part of directed scientific research projects. A mid-cruise port stop in St. George's, Bermuda supported the conservation policy research portion of the students' studies.

Over the past several years, original research by SEA Semester students has directly contributed to international efforts to conserve the Sargasso Sea. Students on this voyage continued that research, conducting hands-on assessment of marine biodiversity and working with scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in a special collaboration to explore the ocean's mesopelagic zone. In a culminating capstone experience, the students will present their research findings and recommendations on implementing conservation plans to a panel of experts during a professional symposium at the end of May after returning to the SEA campus in Woods Hole.