July 20, 2015
Samantha Schildroth (Medical Biology and Environmental Science, ’17) has set her sails for the Phoenix Islands, a largely unexplored region of the Pacific Ocean, where she, along with 21 other undergraduates who are sailing with her, will gather data on the islands as part of their eight-week Sea Education Association (SEA) Semester summer program.
The program, titled “Protecting the Phoenix Islands,” provides an opportunity for students from diverse U.S. colleges and universities to complete some of the first comprehensive oceanographic surveys of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA). One of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas, PIPA is an expanse of ocean (approximately the size of California), which was recently named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.
As an active crewmember and scientist, Schildroth will spend two weeks on the SSV Robert C. Seamans, a 134-foot brigantine sailing ship, which set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii. During the three weeks in PIPA, she will assist in documenting the oceanic ecosystem around seven small coral atolls, including pristine reefs filled with rich fauna of corals, other invertebrates and fish. A final leg to American Samoa will complete the voyage in mid-August.