Undergraduates on the Ocean

Undergraduates on the Ocean

FAU Harbor Branch Students Spent a Day Conducting Science at Sea Aboard a Research Vessel

Fifteen FAU undergraduate students participated in a day at sea April 7, aboard the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s (FIO) research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth.

The students are current participants in the Semester by the Sea (SBTS) program, designed to provide undergraduate students an opportunity to broaden their educational experience with a semester-long immersion in marine science. All SBTS courses are taught on the FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute campus in Fort Pierce, Fla., and accredited by the university’s department of biological sciences. SBTS is funded by a grant from the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation.

When not at sea, R/V Hogarth is usually docked at its home port at the University of South Floirda, St. Petersburg bayfront campus. For the 2022-2023 science season, however, the vessel and its crew have been repositioning around the state to facilitate access for FIO consortium members. The April stop at FAU Harbor Branch gave students the opportunity to spend a day working and learning aboard a state-of-the art scientific research trawler. For many of the students, this was their first excursion on a scientific research vessel.

Christened in 2017, the vessel is named after former FIO Director Bill Hogarth, Ph.D., who previously served as assistant administrator of the NOAA Fisheries under President George W. Bush and dean of the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science. FIO is a consortium of 30 Florida state universities, private universities and colleges, marine institutions and state agencies which is dedicated to educating the next generation of ocean scientists.

The day included environmental and biological sampling on Capron Shoal, a nearshore shallow water site just south of the Fort Pierce Inlet locally known to marine scientists as an accessible, high diversity site. Under the guidance of FAU Harbor Branch’s Jim Masterson, Ph.D., assistant research professor, Ph.D., and Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D., research professor, and Hogarth Captain Hayden Wiley and his crew, students deployed a small benthic dredge and a scientific trawl to collect specimens from the seafloor. Students also collected water samples and profiled the physical properties of the water column. On the return trip to the FAU Harbor Branch campus the ship’s chief engineer provided tours of the engine room.

Masterson and Hanisak, both involved in day-to-day teaching for SBTS, said they welcomed the chance to get their students out on the water. “We’re in the last couple of weeks of a demanding semester,” Masterson said. “This was a nice surprise for the students, but also an exciting and novel research setting to place them into. Even a short excursion like this provides new hands-on experiences and learning opportunities that students may not otherwise get. That’s what we have tried to offer through the Harbor Branch Semester by the Sea program for more than 20 years.”

To learn more about research and education at FAU Harbor branch visit https://www.fau.edu/hboi/.

If you would like more information, please contact us at dorcommunications@fau.edu.