Student Sails on Atlantic Expedition with the Sea Education Association

April 22, 2015

Sabrina Hutchinson
Sabrina Hutchinson takes the helm as a Sea Education
Association research vessel 
is in its first port at San Juan,
Puerto Rico 
during a 5-week scientific expedition.
(Photo courtesy of the Sea Education Association)

HONOLULU — Hawai‘i Pacific University student Sabrina Hutchinson set sail this week from San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a 5-week scientific expedition through the North Atlantic, with the Sea Education Association.

Hutchinson, a senior studying marine biology at HPU, is is one of 20 undergraduates from top colleges and universities nationwide and abroad who will conduct original biodiversity and conservation policy research, as part of the SEA Semester: Marine Biodiversity & Conservation program’s voyage to New York City.

“Out on the water, learning is more opportunity based,” Hutchinson said. “For example, if we come across a pod of dolphins, we’ll take some time to learn about the species.”

“Classrooms are great for gaining knowledge, but you need real-world experience to tie everything you learn in a classroom together,” she said. “Difficult concepts are much easier to grasp when you can see them working in nature.”

The students’ work aboard the state-of-the-art ocean research vessel SSV Corwith Cramer will inform international efforts to protect the Sargasso Sea, a critically important ecosystem in the remote North Atlantic Ocean.

Hutchinson also participated with SEA last summer aboard the research vessel SSV Robert C. Seamans, as part of HPU’s Aloha ‘Aina program. Students on that voyage visited several Hawaiian islands to learn about marine environments and culture. The program is being offered at HPU again this summer.

Following last summer's voyage, Hutchinson was “enthusiastic to work even more sea time into her academic program,” said Brenda Jensen, Ph.D., associate professor of Biology and associate dean of the College of Natural and Computational Sciences.

To prepare Hutchinson for the Atlantic expedition, “her professors, department chair and deans have worked with her over the past several months to make sure that she could complete her BS Marine Biology program requirements and participate in this awesome experience,” Jensen said.

For students who are looking for a sea-going experience closer to home, HPU’s 2015 Aloha ‘Aina sets sail in June, Jensen added. Applications are now being accepted. See www.hpu.edu/sea​ .

The program seeks to bring together science and non-science majors, since it takes “teamwork and many different skill sets to come together to solve complex environmental problems that always have strong social components,” Jensen said. “The students learn about the ocean environment and witness and even participate in examples of community-driven restoration efforts.”

Upon completion of the SEA program, students can earn three credits each for the MARS 2100 (Marine Resource Management) and MARS 2110 (Ocean Environment of the Pacific Islands) courses. Both courses meet HPU 2015 general education requirements in the categories Sustainable World and Natural World.

For more information on HPU’s Aloha ‘Aina: People & Nature in the Hawaiian Islands program, visit www.hpu.edu/sea. Follow the current SEA expedition at www.sea.edu/sea_currents/tags/c259.