SEAmester, South Africa's first dedicated Class Afloat, launched today from the East Pier, Table Bay. The floating university set sail on a ten-day voyage to discover more about life in the sea, marine instrumentation, ocean dynamics and data analysis with a specific focus on the Agulhas Current.
SEAmester aims to introduce marine science as an applied and cross-disciplinary field to students who have shown an interest in these fields.
Five students from UCT's Department of Oceanography will be on board the SA Agulhas II and participate in SEAmester. They are honours students Heather Forrer, Raquel Flynn, and Tanya Marshall, and master's students Matthew Carr and Sheveenah Taukoor. The students will be joined by Associate Professor Isabelle Ansorge, their head of department, and Dr Raymond Roman, chief scientific officer from the Department of Oceanography.
Professor Ansorge is directing the programme with the assistance of Tahlia Henry, a former Cape Peninsula University of Technology student who is the SEAmester coordinator. Henry plans to start her master's in oceanography at UCT next year.
“I've never been out to sea,” says Tanya Marshall. “I'm hoping to get a lot of practical work in the labs and get a better understanding of the equipment I've learnt about in the lectures. This will be the first time I will actually be seeing it in the ocean, so that will be really amazing.”
On board, the students will be able to combine theoretical classroom learning and the application of this knowledge through ship-based, hands-on research, while working alongside specialist scientists in internationally relevant research activities.
Sheveenah Taukoor, who previously studied in the engineering faculty, is looking forward to the hands-on experience the SEAmester trip will equip her with.
“In 2014 Isabelle made me visit the ship as an open-day event and since then I totally fell in love with the ship and merged my way into oceanography,” she says. “I studied sea-level rise, so it will be a great opportunity to go look at glaciers melting, but also learn about the different practicals that they do, different operations which are done at sea and this type of research.”
Master's student Matthew Carr is looking forward to interacting with peers from other universities around the South Africa.
“I'm looking forward to just learning some practical skills and meeting lots of different people from all over the country,” he says.
The SEAmester cruise will provide valuable ocean data to better understand the role of the Agulhas Current in a global ocean and provide an exciting scientific background for SEAmester to engage with.
Heather Forrer says, “I hope this cruise will allow me to become familiar with all the tools of the trade and to really get to understand how the all the data is collated.”
The voyage is sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology with the hopes of increasing awareness of the ocean's physical and ecological response to climate change.
They hope that the SEAmester trip will inspire and attract students into the marine sciences.
Story Chido Mbambe. Photo Michael Hammond.
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