To the editor: The Marine Tech Notes article in the October 2009 issue (Science under sail, Issue #181) draws attention to a most worthwhile effort, that of Mark Schrader, the crew of Ocean Watch, and Sailors for the Sea to highlight the changing condition of the oceans and the need to understand the science behind this. Human-induced climate change is having widespread impact and in some cases appears to be accelerating. Understanding these changes and what we can do to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts needs to be on everyone’s to-do list. Congratulations to Schrader for playing such a leadership role.
Your article suggests that science under sail is unusual. At Sea Education Association (SEA), however, we have been doing science under sail since Cory Cramer founded our organization in 1971. Our two vessels, SSV Corwith Cramer and SSV Robert C. Seamans, spend 540 total days a year in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean teaching college, high school and graduate students about the ocean. Our science equipment is state of the art. Both vessels are associate members of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System fleet.
Some of our data collections (marine debris; physical and chemical profiles over more than 20 years in the Atlantic, eight in the Pacific; geographic and temporal distribution of organisms) are among the best time series extant. SEA has provided more than 8,000 students with the opportunity to learn about the ocean and the relationship it has with humans from a scientific, historical, cultural and experiential point of view. We have sailed more than a million miles engaged in ocean research in pursuit of our mission to increase awareness of the ocean environment. You will find our alumni at the forefront of research in ocean acidification, the melting of Greenland’s ice cap, the depletion of fisheries and many other critical ocean issues. And if you talk with them, I think you will find that their careers got a real boost when they were able to do “science under sail” with SEA. Find out more at www.sea.edu.
—John K. Bullard is president of the Sea Education Association, which is based in Woods Hole, Mass.