SeaSpeak Programs

SeaSpeaks are lecture-type programs with topics that appeal to our adult audiences. Using an engaging story-telling format, our UNH Marine Docents share their expertise, experience, and knowledge with many groups and organizations on the Seacoast.

SeaSpeaks are $75 per presentation unless otherwise specified. Click on the topics below to view the available programs and descriptions.

How to schedule a SeaSpeak? 

Email or call Dari Christenson at dari.christenson@unh.edu or (603) 862-6701.

Common Seabirds Along the New Hampshire Seacoast

Learn to identify the common local seabirds as well as some of their unique characteristics.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: One hour
Customization: Can be expanded to 1.5 hours to include additional bird biology that would be relevant to other common bird species found in NH.

Whales that Walked

How and why a small hoofed land mammal returned to the sea and became the largest animal of all time. An evolutionary story just now being pushed further back in time. Whales closest living relatives are what? Come and find the answer.

Tidal Pools and Who Lives in them

An exploration of the fascinating biota that can be found in the intertidal pools along the seacoast.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Customization: Can be tailored in duration and content to the target audience.

Bioluminescence

In the depths of the ocean where sun light does not penetrate, most organisms produce their own light to communicate. Bacteria, whales, and all in between utilize bioluminescence for offense, defense, and mating purposes.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation, Videos

Sea Chanteys - Songs of the Working Sailors of Yore Explores

The range of work and recreational songs used by sailors to ease their efforts and pass the time in the days of big sailing ships.

Customization: 45 minutes to 1 hour. Singing and Multimedia. Can be tailored in duration and content to the target audience.

A Celestial Navigation Practicum

A four-session introduction to the art of celestial navigation focused on observations of the sun and sight solution by hand scientific calculator. Sessions 1 and 2 introduce the concepts, both astronomical and practical; session 3 takes students out to the shore to take actual sun sights with a sextant; session 4 concludes with sight reduction and plotting the results. No sophisticated math is required, although some familiarity would enhance understanding. Although probably not resulting in a complete facility in the process, the student will have experienced all of the tools necessary for this seafaring art.

Customization: Four two-hour sessions; perhaps offered once a week, or on four successive days. All material is provided, including access to sextants. Students will be provided with all course material and a take-home CD of the course.

Wooden Boat Building - A Heritage of the Piscataqua Region

Ship and boat building were a central part of life and the economy of the region from the early 1600's to the 1870's. Early vessels were for river and Gulf of Maine utility; later ones voyaged world-wide. Explore the types, origins and production in several up-river towns, the mast trade and resulting deforestation. Later the down-river "clipper ships" era, the Naval Shipyard and the abrupt end of large wooden construction after the Civil War. Also, and epilogue considering the genetic activity during the "Great War' - building both wooden and steel merchant ships - and look at current builders in the area.

Customization: two-hour format with a break in the middle. Could be presented in two sessions - perhaps on two separate days.

Up River with the Flood Tide

A pictorial virtual tour up the river, into the bay and to the head-of-tide on some of our seven tributary rivers. Look along the river banks, at the present day activities and the historical industry and commerce miles upstream for hundreds of years. Learn about rivers that run backwards, and skinny rivers - both below and above.

Time: One-hour talk

The Piscataqua Estuary - A Virtual Cruise through History

An "armchair cruise" through the harbor and up the rivers of the estuary, looking at the surrounds as seen from the water and folding in much historical imagery illustrating what had gone on during the over 350 years of our occupancy.

Time: 2-hour with a break in the middle
Customization: Could be presented in two sessions, perhaps on two separate days.

The Vital Importance of Wood in Early NH

Wood was important in every part of colonial life. From the houses they lived in, the bowls and plates they ate from, the ships they built and sailed in, to the way goods were stored and transported, wood was the essential material. We will discuss how wood was obtained and moved, then processed into useful things like lumber, beams, ships, masts, etc. And it all started with Skid Row!

The Real Major General John Sullivan of Durham, NH

John Sullivan was a Major General in the Revolutionary War, and was elected Governor of NH three times. His Irish parents came to America as indentured servants. We will explore how the son oaf a very poor family rose to such prominence in military and political circles. He led a very active, and sometimes controversial, life full of twists and turns. How did he become much more famous in other states than right here in NH?

John Paul Jones, The RANGER, and where she got her Cannon

A detective story of sorts, following the trail of letters, orders, and ledger book entries to confirm the source of RANGER's cannon in 1777 when these were in very short supply. The trail led to Nicholas Brown's Hope Furnace in Hope, RI. Includes the story of the iron-making "furnaces," the crash development of continental cannon making at the outset of the Revolutionary War, the later production by several key furnaces, and concludes with presentation of a half-scale 4-pounder patterned on a contemporary one found in Hope, RI.

Plants along the New Hampshire Seacoast

Learn the history and uses of the common plants brought here by the early New England colonists.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: One hour
Customization: May be expanded to 1.5 hours to include some additional basic botany for a better understanding of plants in general.

Great Bay, New Hampshire's Hidden Treasure

Explore the past historical events, the present and the future, along with some of the natural history of the Great Bay region.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: One-hour
Customization: may be abbreviated to 45 minutes if there is a time constraint.

School of Hard-Rocks

A study in basic geology enabling you to understand and identify how the various rock formations formed along the NH Seacoast.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: One hour
Customization: Can be expanded to 1.5 hours to include some additional geological events such as The Ice Age and Continental Glaciers.

The Seacoast Science Center - A Jewel of the Seacoast

Describes the development and current programs and attractions of the Seacoast Science Center on the coast of Rye, NH

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: 45 minutes to one hour
Customization: Can be tailored in duration and content to the target audience.

An Armchair Cruise around Portsmouth Harbor

A Virtual boat cruise around Portsmouth Harbor, we will see the sights along the shore and the harbor islands. We will also see and hear about their historical predecessors. This harbor has been a vital and varied seaport for almost 380 years.

Time: 50 minutes
Customization: Can be tailored to a specific audience

What's so Great about the Great Bay?

Learn the geography of the Great Bay, the definition of an estuary, the Bay's flora and fauna and how man has changed things.

Time: 50-minute talk

The Piscataqua Estuary - A Virtual Cruise through History

An "armchair cruise" through the harbor and up the rivers of the estuary, looking at the surrounds as seen from the water and folding in much historical imagery illustrating what had gone on during the over 350 years of our occupancy.

Time: 2-hour with a break in the middle
Customization: Could be presented in two sessions, perhaps on two separate days.

Great Bay, New Hampshire's Hidden Treasure

Explore the past historical events, the present and the future, along with some of the natural history of the Great Bay region.

Technology: PowerPoint presentation
Time: One-hour
Customization: may be abbreviated to 45 minutes if there is a time constraint.

Up River with the Flood Tide

A pictorial virtual tour up the river, into the bay and to the head-of-tide on some of our seven tributary rivers. Look along the river banks, at the present day activities and the historical industry and commerce miles upstream for hundreds of years. Learn about rivers that run backwards, and skinny rivers - both below and above.

Time: One-hour talk

An Armchair Cruise around Portsmouth Harbor

A Virtual boat cruise around Portsmouth Harbor, we will see the sights along the shore and the harbor islands. We will also see and hear about their historical predecessors. This harbor has been a vital and varied seaport for almost 380 years.

Time: 50 minutes
Customization: Can be tailored to a specific audience

Barquentine STARCLIPPER

A sailing cruise through the Caribbean and the canal.

Derived from a cruise on the four-masted barquentine, sailing from St. Maarten and the Windward Islands, the islands of Venezuela, the Netherlands Antilles, Cartagena, San Blas, and through the Panama Canal. the Star Clipper is a full-fledged square-rigged sailing vessel, but a cruise ship as well. The sail in the January winds was a down-wind two-week romp.

Customization: 1) One 50-minute session, concentrates on the on-board sailing experience. 2) 1.5 hours includes on-board sailing experience and shore excursions and activities. This format would provide a break in the middle.

Waterways to the West

An armchair cruise on the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Discover the waterway routes used for centuries to connect the seacoast to the interior. We travel the East and Hudson Rivers, the Erie and Oswego canals, the Thousand Islands, St. Lawrence Seaway and to Montreal and Quebec City. Much of the historical background of these areas is illustrated, the importance of the water routes, and the old and newer threats to the system. This talk is based on a two-week transit by small cruise vessel.

Customization: Fits into a two-hour format with a break in the middle. Could be presented in two sessions.