On September 25, students participating in the World Travel Academy @Ross course in the Solomon Islands departed Ross Upper School for their journey to the South Pacific. For three weeks, they will be conducting marine studies aboard a research vessel alongside distinguished scientists.
The Solomon Islands are a critical region for understanding the patterns, relationships, distribution, and history of reef-associated Pacific marine species. This World Travel Academy course will immerse students in fieldwork that allows them to experience the rich diversity of the marine ecosystems of these islands.
For their studies, students will learn data collection and analysis techniques such as conducting plankton tows, gathering samples via dives, documenting and identifying species, and enacting scientific protocols for the safe collection and identification of species. They also will participate in the greater scientific community by sharing their data through established online scientific blogs and databases.
Another important part of the experience will be cultural excursions that will help the students relate their findings to how the people of Solomon Islands regard and interact with their natural environment.
As part of their coursework during the time onboard the ship, the group will study the operations and systems of the research vessel, working alongside the captain and crew, which will provide valuable experience for those students considering a future career in marine science.
“When I heard I had the opportunity to visit the Solomon Islands, I was ecstatic,” enthused Evi Kaasik-Saunders, a sophomore at Ross who also belongs to Innovation Lab @Ross. “I cannot imagine all the amazing marine life and biodiversity present in the unique environment of the Solomon Islands. After everything I have heard about this trip, I am most enthusiastic about working with octopi (which the Solomon Islands are particularly known for) and possibly cuttlefish. I was mesmerized by the incredible creatures we found while snorkeling in Mo’orea. The Solomon Islands supposedly has significantly more diverse marine life and we will be broadening our focus on what we study. Because of this, I assume that mesmerized will be an understatement to describe the effect this trip will have on me.”
Shanshan He, a junior at Ross who is also in the Innovation Lab, is similarly looking forward to the course. “I am extremely enthusiastic about exploring the rich marine biodiversity of Solomon Islands while working alongside [the experts]. I can’t wait to discover those fascinating species hiding in the coral reefs!”