SEAmester is a South African initiative to take students and scientists to the sea. The scientists are sampling the water in front of the south African coast along the ASCA array, to gain more knowledge about the Agulhas current. At the same time, we students have the opportunity to learn right where the science happens! Spotting birds and mammals, taking water samples, doing CTD casts, the program is just as diverse and colorful as the participants.
This year, Isabelle and me have the chance to be on board during the 11 days trip. Having never been to Africa before, for me the adventure began even earlier. Making all the way from the University of Gothenburg (SE) to Cape Town (SA), it was a long journey and luckily I had a couple of days before to discover the beauties of Cape Town. And what a great town it is! Close to the southern end of Africa, it is very exposed to the weather and the climate is influenced by the two ocean currents on either side.
The table mountains and Cape point are two of the places to go in Cape town, and the long powerful waves are a reminder how exposed Cape town lies to the open ocean.
The currents here, especially the Agulhas current are very strong. With a velocity of up to 10 km/h, it is way faster than people can swim. And it is a nice warm ocean current, making the evening on deck cozy even after sunset. The wind and swell, even though being gentle with us, made some of our friends onboard turn green and sick. 😦
I feels good to get some hands on experience with different sampling methods. Even though most sampling methods are fairly easy, I is good to know (as an oceanographer) how a Niskin sampling-bottle works, and not having to learn it when a team of scientist are actually relying on the data and that bit of water that is sampled in the depth using a CTD rosette.
The sea-life here in front of South Africa is amazing! Today we spotted seals, Humpback whales, and a whole lot of different birds already! The scientists, watching the marine mammals, working for the south African weather service or researching the currents are also giving lectures and sharing their knowledge – about the ships weather station and measurements, balloon starts and simple forecast strategies.
During the SEAmester programme, we are also recording a short video clip of the experience. It will be linked here once it goes public, so stay tuned!