The intersection of the open ocean and the terrestrial environment encompasses a variety of globally important nearshore and shoreline ecosystems. Coastal environments occur across continents and oceans, and range from small inland bays, marshes, and estuaries to vast kelp forests, coral reefs, rocky intertidal shorelines, sea grass beds, and mangrove communities. These productive ecosystems are highly valued by human populations for their access to food resources, as well as their aesthetic and recreational value. 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 and importance 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, gaining an understanding of challenges brought on by human activity, and exploring conservation strategies and emerging solutions to address challenges facing coastal ecosystems worldwide.