Paul Smith's student sails the seas of New Zealand

PAUL SMITHS, NY (12/11/2014)(readMedia)-- Paul Smith's College senior Devon Tibbils has been off sailing near the shores of New Zealand for almost a month now, but he's not on vacation.

Tibbils is enrolled in SEA Semester: The Global Ocean, a study abroad program through Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Mass. Tibbils, a biology student from Rochester, N.Y., successfully completed the Sea Semester's five-week shore component, earning academic credit for curriculum in oceanography, nautical science and maritime studies. In addition to the three core courses, students enrolled in The Global Ocean have the opportunity to specialize their educational experience by taking two of four electives in cultural landscapes and seascapes, data communication and visualization, conservation and management and a directed oceanographic research project.

Tibbils is aboard a tall ship called the Robert C. Seamans, one of the most sophisticated research equipped vessels under sail in the United States. Tibbils and his classmates are using the 134-foot sailing school vessel to examine the modern environmental issues faced by communities in New Zealand, a nation long tied to the sea, paying particular attention to the historic and modern development of fisheries, seaports, trade and tourism. Students use the ten metrics of the Ocean Health Index ( to see how actions have changed the landscape, seascape, cultures and traditions over time.

Before it's all said and done, Tibbils will have sailed on the tall ship from Auckland and hit port stops in Wellington, Dunedin, Lyttelton and back to Wellington again – a journey of approximately 2000 nautical miles and five weeks at sea. During that time, in addition to collecting data for an independent research project relating to social, political, economic, environmental and cultural changes at each port stop, Tibbils will help provide weather observations to a national database, learn to chart the course of the vessel using celestial navigation and serve as the junior watch officer, taking full command of the vessel.


At Paul Smith's College, it's about the experience. Paul Smith's, which was founded in 1946, is the only bachelor's degree-granting institution of higher education in the Adirondacks. Our programs – in fields including hospitality, culinary arts, forestry, natural resources and the sciences – draw on industries and resources available in our own backyard while preparing students for successful careers anywhere. For more information:


Sea Education Association, in Woods Hole, Mass., was founded in 1971. It is the only full-credit undergraduate program in the United States that combines a rigorous academic and research curriculum with a voyage to the deep ocean under sail. Students of any discipline may apply to SEA Semester programs which combine both shore and sea components. At shore, all students live, study and work alongside professional researchers, scholars and mariners. At sea, each student is part of the ship's crew, participating in a watch team that will participate in every aspect of running the operations of the ship and scientific research. The shipboard experience provides the opportunity to develop teamwork and decision-making skills and a greater respect for others. For many students, SEA Semester is an adventure of a lifetime.

For more information, visit, where you can track progress of the vessel, along with student experiences, on the blog, which is updated each business day.