Meet Our Spring 2017 OBR

Needless to say...

sea turtles, OBR, hatchling

Hi, my name is Anna Brodmerkel and I’m the Sailors for the Sea's Onboard Reporter for SEA Semester this spring! I am a junior Public Policy-Environmental Studies, BA, double-major with a marine science minor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. This semester I am part of the Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MBC) program, class C273.

Each SEA program is unique, but MBC is on another level- literally. We are taking four 300 and 400 level science and policy classes along with a nautical science class, conducting directed oceanographic research, and creating a framework for a non-governmental organization (NGO). MBC is actually the only program to have two shore components that sandwich the sailing portion and culminate in a research symposium where we present our findings to members of the community and experts in national and international marine conversation science and policy. Needless to say, MBC gained the reputation of the program that sleeps the least.

cruise track, tall ship

As of now, we just finished shore 1 where we completed a full semester in 4 weeks. Yep, that’s right… 4 weeks. All of our hard work has brought us to the sea component where we will sail from the Bahamas, through the Sargasso Sea, and up to New York with a port stop in Bermuda. Needless to say, I’m stoked!! I couldn’t be more excited… or exhausted at this point.

beach cleanup, marine debris, beach, OBR

During the past month, I’ve received a crash course in the biodiversity of the Sargasso Sea and international ocean governance and policy; however, on the ship I will focus on the health (determined by epibiont coverage and percent growth region) and phylogenetic relationships of Sargassum in the Sargasso Sea with my four other group members: Paige, Julian, and Karrin. The idea of completing PCR and gel electrophoresis analysis on a rocking ship is intimidating, but also thrilling! Needless to say, there will be many challenges to our research, but the stories and experience will be unparalleled.

beach, OBR

MBC presents many challenges that I am simply cannot prepare for in this moment, but I am taking steps to mentally prepare myself for the voyage. I find myself thinking about why I chose SEA Semester and the MBC program, and one of my favorite quotes from Neale Donald Walsch comes to mind: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” SEA Semester is not just at the end of my comfort zone, but in the ABNJ of my comfort zone. (It’s a public policy joke- please be prepared for my terrible sense of humor and excessive use of puns.) Needless to say, SEA Semester is already one of the best semesters in my academic career, and I cannot wait to SEAs the opportunities that lie ahead.

Sylvia Earle once described the Sargasso Sea as the “golden floating rainforest in the Atlantic Ocean.” Along this vein, our class motto is fittingly, “stay golden.” So, until next time, stay golden.

sunsets, beach, OBR

Stay tuned for more updates from our Onboard Reporter, Anna!

In collaboration with Sea Education Association (SEA), Sailors for the Sea is offering an award for a SEA Semester student to become an Onboard Reporter. SEA is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education through their study abroad program. As a recipient of the new Sailors for the Sea Onboard Reporter award, Anna Brodmerkel is chronicling ocean health issues observed during her voyage aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, one of SEA’s tall sailing ship research vessels, in the Atlantic Ocean. Anna is a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill double majoring in Public Policy and Environmental Studies with a minor in marine science.