Meet Our Fall 2017 OBR - Sailors for the Sea

Meet Our Fall 2017 OBR

 November 21, 2017  | By: Oceana

Hey everyone! My name is Keiley James, and I am a sophomore Biology major at the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). Earlier this summer I made one of the the best decisions of my life: to go on a SEA Semester.

OBR, onboard reporter, marine science

I am a part of class C-276, the Caribbean Reef Expedition. This entire experience has been nothing short of a dream, and we haven’t even been out to sea yet. We just finished our onshore component in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, home to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In this amazing little town, tucked away in the armpit of Cape Cod, groundbreaking oceanographic research is taking place every day. It was a very exciting place for an aspiring marine biologist to be living.

While living on the SEA campus, we learned about reef ecology and conservation in our Oceans and Global Change class, Ocean Science and Public Policy, and the one I am most excited about: Directed Oceanographic Research (DOR). In DOR, we are designing our own experiment, based on our individual questions and interests about coral reefs, so that when we get to the Caribbean, we can immediately begin our field work. I, for example, will be studying herbivorous fish species, and their effect on reef health. Other students are interested in fisheries, corals and coral diseases, coral/fish recruitment, resiliency, mangrove and seagrass systems, and some are very interested in public policy. For the other classes, I will be collecting and examining samples of zooplankton, and will also be looking at the effects of climate change on the island of Montserrat. It will be a lot of work, but I am excited nonetheless.

charts, marine science, nautical science

When I applied to go on a SEA Semester, I’ll admit I had no idea what I was in for. I had never sailed before, and my knowledge of boats is borderline primitive, extending only to some idea about how motorboats work on lakes. I thought I had a general idea of how sailing works: winds catch the sail, and the boat moves, right? Well… I’ve come to find out through our nautical science class that there is a little bit more to it than just that. While you are out on the ocean, for example, it really helps to know where in the world you are, and just as important, where you are heading. To figure this out, we learned how to plot positions and routes on a chart. Another lesson I learned is that there are are many different types of sails, each to be used under different circumstances, and they all have different names (which I can’t remember yet, sorry Captain Chris). And there are approximately five billion different lines which all perform different functions. I tend to be the learn-by-doing type, so I hope that by the time I am on the boat for a few days, I will know each of them… Until then, I’m very glad we will have a captain and crew along with us who know exactly what they are doing.

tall ship, marine science, model, boat

I look forward to our upcoming Caribbean adventure with an open mind and an appreciation for the good company I find in my shipmates. I am so excited to learn new things about my shipmates, about sailing tall ships, about the world we live in, and maybe something about myself.

marine science, OBR, sunrise

My main takeaway from my time in Woods Hole is this: be perceptive of your surroundings, of the people you are with, of the lessons there are to be learned, and of the opportunities which discretely present themselves to you. Take advantage of the places you go, and perhaps most importantly, be happy where you are. And if you ever find yourself in Woods Hole, take a few minutes in the late afternoon to watch the sunset on The Knob… I promise, you won’t regret it.

marine science, sunset

I’ll keep you posted! Next stop: Grenada.

Keiley James

Stay tuned for more updates from our Onboard Reporter, Keiley!

In collaboration with Sea Education Association (SEA), Sailors for the Sea is offering an award for a SEA Semester student to become an Onboard Reporter. SEA is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education through their study abroad program. As a recipient of the new Sailors for the Sea Onboard Reporter award, Keiley James is chronicling ocean health issues observed during her voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, one of SEA’s tall sailing ship research vessels, in the Caribbean. Keiley is a Univeristy of Georgia sophmore majoring in Biologoy.