The SEAmester programme is a marine science winter school founded by Prof. Isabelle Ansorge of UCT which takes place at sea and provides the perfect platform for coupling both academic research and learning.  Every year approximately 100 students, lecturers and scientists from over 15 different institutions (both local and international) come together for approximately 10 days at sea onboard the SA Agulhas II. SEAmester exposes postgraduate students to multiple different marine science disciplines through daily lectures, practicals, and regular interaction with many professionals conducting their research onboard South Africa’s state of the art research vessel.

3 of the 4 previous SEAmester cruises have sampled the Agulhas System Climate Array (ASCA) transect.  ASCA was an array of moorings deployed across the Agulhas Current from April 2016 to May 2018, in order to better understand the physical properties and dynamics of the Agulhas Current. The ASCA project extended the research undertaken along this array during the Agulhas Current Time-series project by continuing to sample the same 20 hydrographic stations. In-situ data in the Agulhas Current is very rare, and the collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach adopted during SEAmester has greatly improved our understanding of the complex Agulhas Current System.  More information in paper by Morris et al., 2017  Above: Location of the stations sampled during SEAmester. Figure by James Maitland.

Left: Last year during SEAmester IV we experienced 3 consecutive cold fronts with resulting waves of up to 10m in size. This rough weather meant we were only able to sample 16 out of 20 of our planned stations. Photo credit: Thando Mazomba

Sampling during SEAmester IV has included physical oceanography, biogeochemistry, phytoplankton, zooplankton, ichthyoplankton, microplastics, marine parasites, marine bacteria, marine seabirds and mammals, meteorology, benthic dredge sampling and more. SEAmester has provided an incredible opportunity for scientists from different disciples to work together and at the same time providing students with invaluable seagoing experience. The 5th SEAmester cruise which was due to take place this week has unfortunately been postponed until next year due to COVID-19.

SEAmester has changed the lives of students! “Department of Science and Innovation’s 10-year Global Change Grand Challenge programme requires platforms to ‘attract young researchers and retain them by exciting their interest in aspects of global change; while developing their capacity and professional skills in the relevant fields of investigation.” – Isabelle Ansorge


  • This programme has been the best experience in my life. It changed my outlook on how to gather knowledge, where to do research, how to think logically as well as to be creative and intuitive”
  • “I have made so many new friends and build up my contacts for future endeavours”
  • “SEAmester has made me realise that I have a passion for ocean-based research”
  • “It has greatly influenced my general career goals and aims”
  • “I really enjoyed meeting so many people from a diverse range of backgrounds and sciences”
  • “I loved the way the content of SEAmester has helped me to link up all the theory that I have learnt over the years”
  • “SEAmester was the best experience of my life”
  • “I hope that SEAmester will continue in years so other students get the chance to have such an awesome experience”
  • “I have been changed positively by this course – I am more motivated to tackle my studies”
  • Just being together as a team – it didn’t matter what your background was”
  • “It was a time of my life that I will never ever forget”

                Text Supplied by Laura Braby – SAEON- Egagasini Node. Student Comments supplied by Isabelle Ansorge. Images available on Antarctic Legacy of South Africa Archive. More videos and images available at

© South African National Antarctic Programme • Managed and administered by Antarctic Legacy of South Africa • Photo Credits
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