The intersection of the open ocean and the terrestrial environment encompasses a variety of globally important nearshore ecosystems. Coastal environments occur throughout the oceans and range from small inland bays, marshes, and estuaries to vast kelp forest, coral reef, sea grass, and mangrove communities. These productive ecosystems are highly valued by human populations for their access to food resources as well as their aesthetic and touristic appeal. Due to their intrinsic and economic value, easy access, and proximity to human activity, coastal environments are under threat. Overfishing, agricultural runoff, pollution, development and extreme or changing weather patterns are some of the issues we will be discussing in this course. We will explore these unique habitats as we sail in and out of ports around the world on the MV World Odyssey, lending us a first-hand view of the breadth of nearshore habitats and their unique environmental challenges.
Learning objectives for this course include: understanding the basic ecological principles governing the range of ecosystems present in nearshore environments, to gain an understanding of challenges brought on by human activity, and to explore the conservation strategies and emerging solutions to address challenges facing coastal ecosystems throughout the planet.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Date: March 18, 2020
Students will observe and identify the components of a kelp forest ecosystem and exposed shoreline. Snorkeling gear will be provided and allow students to make first hand observations of the kelp forest ecosystem. Examination and identification of organisms, as well as the physical factors influencing these ecosystems, will be noted. This activity will be followed by beach observations, discussions and a beach cleanup activity. Students are required to take detailed notes during the field class, including reflections, photographs and drawings. These will be included in the expedition log and will form the basis for a written report that will include answers to questions provided prior to the activity.
1. Understanding trophic relationships in the kelp forest and identification of major kelp forest species
2. Observation of the connection and influence of shore processes to the nearshore ecosystem
3. Understanding the impact of human activities on this complex ecosystem