The SEAmester cruises take place while voyaging along the ASCA line, an existing research array where an annual dataset is collected. The cruise involves running a transect across the core of the Agulhas Current off Port St Johns. Applicants choose a programme based on two streams: Oceans in a Changing Climate or Tools of the Trade.
Oceans in a Changing Climate is geared toward understanding the chemical processes at play in the global ocean including the marine carbon cycle and an introduction to biogeochemistry. Tools of the Trade has a more practical approach aimed at introducing and familiarising students with the instrumentation used to collect data from the ocean and data analysis software. Both streams participate in daily morning lectures, themed “Ocean Dynamics”. The streams then split into practical deck work in the laboratories and programme specific lectures. The practical work is provided by the ASCA scientists on board who carry out scientific studies. In the evening, lectures covering more cultural topics from Marine Birding, Art at Sea and Photography at Sea take place. A themed party is held on the last night where all the students and staff come together to unwind after all the tasks have been submitted.
In addition to daily assignments students work in small groups on an overarching project presentation. The objective is to present a well thought out research cruise plan. Each group receives a scientific question which the cruise plan has to cover. All aspects of planning have to be accounted for including operational costs, equipment costs, deployment timeline and a supporting argument of what is being suggested.