Orange Alert

Navigating His Future

Syracuse Earth sciences major studies abroad with SEA Semester

April 24, 2017, by Elizabeth Droge-Young

Anthony Crespo ’18 , front left, and fellow SEA Semester students relax on Dominica during trans-Atlantic voyage to study political and ecological climate challenges
Anthony Crespo ’18 , front left, and fellow SEA Semester students relax on Dominica during trans-Atlantic voyage to study political and ecological climate challenges

For Syracuse University Earth sciences major Anthony Crespo ’18, applying to the sailing-based study abroad program Sea Education Association (SEA) Semester was all about broadening his horizons.

“I was looking for better perspective on where I lived when I saw this sailing opportunity. I just thought: I need to take this,” Crespo says. When he heard he was accepted to the program for fall 2015, he was more than ready to go: “I am an adventurous spirit, and I'm always open to new experiences.”

Through SEA Semester: Oceans & Climate, Crespo and 13 other students examined first-hand the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle and climate dynamics and applied their knowledge to pressing public policy questions. Participants completed six weeks of intensive scientific and policy coursework in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, prior to setting sail. While there, the students devised research projects and climate change recommendations with guidance from SEA Semester faculty and area ocean science and policy experts.

Armed with new oceanic knowledge, the students flew to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off of Western Africa, to meet the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA’s state-of-the-art oceanographic research vessel. The ship served as their home, classroom and laboratory for a six-week transatlantic voyage to St. Croix in the Caribbean.

For Crespo, the sailing “bootcamp” was just as rewarding as it was challenging: “Learning to sail was like learning a third language,” the native Puerto Rican says.

“Working long hours on the sea was really hard. Sometimes we were a little bit cranky and sleep deprived, but it was worth the experience.”

While on the vessel, Crespo and a partner sampled jellyfish at night across the Atlantic. “Jellyfish are hunters, so they like to be under cover when they attack their prey—and what better time to attack than during the night,” Crespo explains.

The two looked for effects of oceanic environment on biomass and population size, and while they determined they’d need to sample substantially more jellyfish for conclusive results, they still found that collection success varied by location.

One of the stops on the SEA Semester voyage took the students to the developing island-nation of Dominica. Prior to sailing, Crespo and colleagues developed a climate resilience program for the government of Dominica to aid in disaster preparedness for climate-related threats, like hurricanes. “One special thing about SEA Semester is that we actually saw with our own eyes everything we'd studied about Dominica,” Crespo says.

Outside the classroom, Crespo found renown in the ship’s galley. Every student made one meal for the whole crew, but Crespo was given a special honor: “My first meal of picnic chicken and Puerto Rican rice and beans was voted the most delicious on the entire trip, so everyone wanted me to cook for a second time!”

Now back on land, Crespo encourages fellow Syracuse classmates to consider SEA Semester. “I think that SEA Semester is such a wonderful experience,” he says.

“Everyone is going to have their own unique experience. They're going to have their own special thing they're going to take from the program.”

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin