Sea-ing the world: Student to spend summer on a ship

Written by Gillian Smith
 | Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:02


While many students spend their summers out on the beach or interning in the city, one Duxbury resident will get to explore the Pacific Ocean while living on a Tall Ship.

Peter Willauer, DHS ’11, will spend his summer on the ocean as part of the SEA (Sea Education Association) Semester program: Protecting the Phoenix Islands. The program is run by the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole.

During the summer program, Willauer will travel to the Phoenix Islands, a region that is largely unexplored. The islands comprise the Pacific Ocean’s largest marine protected area and were recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Willauer developed a research project in marine oceanography and policy at the program’s Wood’s Hole campus that will be tested and completed about the 134-foot sailing school vessel, the Robert C. Seamans. The Seamans is one of the most sophisticated research-equipped vessels currently under sail in the United States.

The program lasts six weeks, and the ship will travel from Honolulu, Hawaii, across the equator to the Phoenix Islands with a final destination of Pago Pago, American Samoa. Willauer will spend three weeks in the Phoenix Island Protected Area, documenting the oceanic ecosystem around the archipelago, which has never been done before. He will also have the opportunity to work with research scientists from the New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to provide real-time data that will lay the groundwork for an effective observation plan. During his work with the researchers, he will provide weather observations to a national database, learn to chart the course of the vessel using celestial navigation and will take full command of the vessel during a watch as a junior watch officer.

Willauer is a Colby College student and men’s la- crosse player. In high school at Duxbury, he was named as ESPN Boston’s MIAA lacrosse all-state team as a defensive player.