Student Work, Student News, In Class

Science and Policy for the Sargasso Sea

Kendra Ouellette '19 is currently participating in the Sea Education Association (SEA) Semester program in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, which has set sail for a five-week voyage from Nassau, Bahamas to New York City.

Semester at Sea

Ouellette, who studies Environmental Science, is conducting original scientific and policy research to shape ongoing international efforts to protect the Sargasso Sea, a remote North Atlantic region increasingly recognized for its ecological importance and economic value.

Through SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, students have the extraordinary opportunity to study this environment, described by marine biologist Sylvia Earle as “the golden rain forest of the sea,” and play a role in safeguarding its future.

This class of upper-level science students arrived on March 19 for four weeks of initial coursework at Sea Education Association’s campus in Woods Hole, MA. There, they learned practical shipboard skills, gaining essential knowledge about marine ecology, governance, and conservation, and designed research projects to conduct at sea.

The class has now begun the core of its field-based learning experience. During a five-week voyage from Nassau, Bahamas to New York City, the class will collect biodiversity data as part of directed scientific research projects. A mid-cruise port stop in St. George’s, Bermuda will support the conservation policy research portion of their studies.

Over the past several years, original research by SEA Semester students has directly contributed to international efforts to conserve the Sargasso Sea. Ouellette and her peers will continue that research, conducting hands-on assessment of marine biodiversity.

In a capstone experience, they will present their research findings and recommendations on implementing conservation plans to a panel of experts during a professional symposium in June after returning to the SEA campus in Woods Hole.

Bennington College is a proud member of the Institute of International Education's Generation Study Abroad initiative and committed to working with each student to make study away accessible. The Sea Semester program is just one of many study away options available. Interested students can learn more by contacting the Director of Learning Beyond Bennington.