Island Times Blog

FATHOMS Guest Lecturers Celebrate 10 Years of Marine Science

February 23rd, 2021 by Seatrek Staff |

At SeaTrek BVI, we believe that learning is best approached through hands-on

FATHOMS students getting to know local students.

FATHOMS students getting to know local Jost Van Dyke students and do marine science together.

marine science experience. Our staff includes enthusiastic instructors who are well-versed in scuba, sailing, and marine biology, and all of our students live aboard a floating classroom to experience full immersion in the marine environment. However, our FATHOMS (Focused Adventure Through Hands On Marine Science) program takes SeaTrek hands-on learning to the next level.

FATHOMS is celebrating its 10th year of providing students a unique marine science experience, with opportunities to take specialty dive courses in Scientific Diving and Marine Heritage awareness and experience our guest lecture series. If you want to enjoy these opportunities for yourself, claim one of the last remaining FATHOMS 2021 spots!

Stuart Weiss with FATHOMS students.

Stuart Weiss pictured with FATHOMS marine biology students.

The FATHOMS guest lecture series gives each FATHOMS student the chance to connect with real scientists who are professionals in fields ranging from marine biology and resource management to coastal and agro-ecology. Our guest lecturers bring a diversity of expertise, stories about their unique career journeys, and enthusiasm to sharing their experience and knowledge with our students. This provides students with wide a range of connections and opportunities – not just during the FATHOMS voyage, but well beyond. But don’t just take our word for it – check out what our awesome guest lecturers from years past have to say about their experience with the SeaTrek FATHOMS program.

As a professor, research scientist, and outreach extension specialist, I volunteered in over six SeaTrek FATHOMS voyages to provide students specialized learning opportunities. As a twenty-year resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands, I spent my professional career studying environmental conservation, researching tropical agroecosystems, and learning Caribbean history and culture.” – Stuart Weiss, Assistant Professor at Tarleton State University

Our students not only have the chance to interact with these guest lecturers in a face-to-face setting, but they also have the opportunity to ask questions and really get to understand what being a scientist, researcher, resource manager is all about. By coming aboard and living with the students on the boat, the guest lecturers are able to get to know each student and answer all of their questions. In many cases, guest lecturers accompany FATHOMS students into the field, where they can share their knowledge on science excursions, teach students how they conduct their fieldwork and show students how that work can impact the world.

Emma Hickerson enjoying the afternoon with FATHOMS students.

Emma Hickerson enjoying the afternoon with FATHOMS marine science students.

It was my distinct honor to be invited to join Angie and Captain Monk on the first FATHOMS program in the BVI’s, to help guide the development of the lessons, and educating the students on scientific diving methods. The skills and techniques the students were taught are the same taught to college level students – which included fish and coral identification, and underwater survey methods. The FATHOMS students also had, and continue to have, the incredible opportunity to assist with sea turtle surveys. The level of engagement by the students and their enthusiasm for hands on experiences underwater, and onboard the boat, was high, and a reflection of the quality and value of the SeaTrek FATHOMS program.” Emma Hickerson, Coral Reef Biologist

It was a pleasure bringing my vast experience and enthusiasm for teaching young people to the FATHOMS program, teaching them through in-depth discussions, interactive ecology hikes, and experiential terrestrial activities that included a day tour of a tropical organic farm. Agriculture and destructive land use practices are a major threat to marine ecosystems. Students were excited to learn about and participate in sustainable land use and agroecology that are critical for both healthy food systems and environmental protection of marine ecosystems.” Stuart Weiss, Assistant Professor at Tarleton State University

Having the chance to pick these experts’ brains and ask about real career options and marine science jobs is the first step to our FATHOMS students networking, and these connections do not end when the program does. Our guest lecturers stay in touch with SeaTrek and remain supportive of our work, and of all of the students they meet.

Rachel Welicky introducing students to wet labs.

Rachel Welicky showing students wet labs and her fish parasite research in marine biology.

“It was truly a pleasure to work with SeaTrek students and an even greater pleasure to see how FATHOMS students have pursued their love of marine science after FATHOMS! It’s been truly incredible to witness how FATHOMS’ students have evolved from enthusiastic learners into our next generation of ocean scientists and conservation stewards.” Rachel L. Welicky, Washington Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

What a delight it is for me to see how the students from the inaugural SeaTrek BVI FATHOMS expedition ten years ago have followed their dreams and set themselves on a path to marine science and conservation careers.” Emma Hickerson, Coral Reef Biologist

Dr. Bob Godfrey pictured with SeaTrek’s Director of Marine Science Angela Cowan.

The guest lecturers change on a yearly basis, continually ensuring new knowledge and expertise are available to our FATHOMS students. As we continue to plan for 2021, nothing is set in stone. However, a sneak peek of the potential 2021 guest lecturers includes a representative of the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, the owner of the largest local organic farm on Tortola, and a Coral Disease Response Coordinator from the US Virgin Islands.

This incredible fully immersive, hands-on science, sailing, and scuba experience is hard to beat, and it is something our staff, our students, and even our guest lecturers never forget! If you have yet to be convinced, here’s a video from one of our guest lecturers. VIDEO: Dr. Bob Godfrey, Professor at the University of the Virgin Islands

If you’d like to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, sign up for our FATHOMS program today or contact Captain Monk at, but hurry – only a few spots remain.

* If you would like to contact any of our FATHOMS guest lecturers, please contact our Director of Marine Science, Angie Cowan at

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