Coastal ecosystems form the interface between the land and ocean and support more than half of the planets human population as well as some of the most productive and diverse ecosystems on our planet. Human migration to coastal areas has increased rapidly in recent years as a result of the need for access to food (fishing grounds) and the high socio-economic and aesthetic value placed on these locations. Our residential and industrial wastes pollute beaches, agriculture causes fertilizer and sediment to run into the sea, aquaculture ponds and development replace wave-buffering mangrove forests, and harvesters deplete fish and shellfish stocks. Compounding these issues are the effects of climate change which are raising sea levels, altering the distributions of plants and animals, and modifying patterns of storms and precipitation. Balancing human use of coastal and marine areas with preserving and maintaining a healthy ecosystem is a daunting task. Semester at Sea offers an unparalleled opportunity to study and visit coastal ecosystems across the world to learn about and understand the scope of these issues. This interdisciplinary course will combine the study of the nearshore ecosystems of our oceans with human activity and will focus on how countries and the international community address these challenges.
Field WorkCountry: China
Date: November 29, 2018
Students will visit the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) headquarters and the Yangtze Estuary in Shanghai, China. Situated on the productive Yangtze Estuary, Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world and perhaps nowhere else on earth is the interaction between freshwater, coastal areas and large human populations more striking. During the visit, students will learn about the ecology of the Yangtze Estuary, and how WWF works to protect water sources in the Huangpu River, restore wetland habitat and help provide safe drinking water for more than 20 million people. Students will also visit an active wetland restoration site where WWF works to develop natural methods to purify water in the water source area, contributing to safe drinking water for people of Shanghai.
- Observe the estuary and marine habitats in Shanghai
- Meet with restoration biologists in the area and discuss conservation and social challenges in restoring estuary habitat in a densely populated region
- Develop an appreciation of the interaction between nature and man’s impact on the ecosystem.