Courtney Boucher, C’21, is currently sailing in the Caribbean aboard a tall ship ocean research vessel.

Courtney Boucher, C’21, recently arrived aboard the research vessel SSV Corwith Cramer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to spend six weeks in the Caribbean studying the region’s environment, culture, and history. The natural resources and the environment major is enrolled in SEA Semester: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, a multi-disciplinary study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association of Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  

The SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134-foot brigantine, will serve as home, classroom, and laboratory during the voyage. On board, the students—who represent institutions around the U.S.—become full working members of the ship’s crew, sharing responsibilities for standing watch, processing oceanographic samples, navigating by sextant, and participating in round-the-clock operations under the guidance of professional mariners and oceanographers.

In addition to snorkel-based coral reef surveys, the students will have the opportunity to study whale behavior and conduct marine mammal acoustic research during the peak of humpback breeding season. Each student will chronicle his or her voyage through field sketches, technical diagrams, scientific data records, personal accounts, and stories. 

In multi-day port stops in St. John, St. Martin, Montserrat, Dominica, Bequia, and Grenada, the students will meet with local experts and conduct field-based research on a wide variety of interdisciplinary topics. Past student research projects have explored fisheries management and invasive species, coral reef biodiversity, regional initiatives in response to climate change, and the need for renewable energy alternatives.

The program began on Jan. 2 when the class arrived in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole for six weeks of preparatory coursework. In addition to participating in a rigorous course load, the students visited Brown University’s John Carter Brown Library and the Marine Biological Laboratory Library to access rare archives from centuries of previous Caribbean voyages. 

Follow Boucher’s six-week voyage on the SSV Corwith Cramer blog.

Sarah Strand, also C’21, spent the fall semester sailing in the South Pacific aboard another tall ship ocean research vessel.

Sea Education Association (SEA) is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. For nearly 50 years and with 1.3 million nautical miles sailed, SEA has educated students about the world’s oceans through its Boston University accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester. SEA/SEA Semester is based on Cape Cod in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts and owns two research vessels: the SSV Corwith Cramer, operating in the Atlantic Ocean, and the SSV Robert C. Seamans, operating in the Pacific.