This course is an exploration of life in the saltwater ecosystems of oceans and estuaries. Major topics include physiological and behavioral adaptations for living in marine habitats, classification of marine organisms, ecological processes and structure of marine communities, basic oceanographic processes that impact marine life, and marine conservation. All marine habitats will be examined, from the intertidal zone to the deep sea, but special emphasis will be given to marine habitats visited during the Semester at Sea voyage.
Field WorkCountry: Spain
Day: 2 - Cadiz - Tuesday, 1 October
From the port of Cadiz, we will travel to Tarifa on Spain’s southern tip and set sail aboard a whale-watching vessel. During the 2-hour cruise in the Strait of Gibraltar, we may see common and bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, and sperm whales. On board, we will be instructed by either a professional naturalist provided by the vessel operator or a marine biologist from CIRCE, an NGO dedicated to the study of cetaceans in the Strait of Gibraltar and the Gulf of Cadiz. A CIRCE marine biologist will discuss her research on the cetaceans we observe and will also discuss both current and historical methods and issues with major fisheries in the area, including the tuna fishery. On the way back from Tarifa, we will stop off for a visit to the Ruins of Baelo Claudia, an ancient Roman town that thrived 2000 years ago near the current seaside town of Belonia. Baelo Claudia derived its wealth from the tuna fishing industry, from which they produced garum, a fish paste that was a sought-after delicacy throughout the Roman Empire. In addition to the impressive temple, forum, and basilica, the ruins of the large fish-salting factory are the perfect backdrop for a discussion of the importance of the tuna fishery both today and in ancient times, and to review current tuna fishing techniques and fishery issues. Academic Objectives: 1. Explore biology and conservation of two iconic nekton groups in southern Spain: cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and tuna. 2. Identify cetacean species in the wild and quantify abundance estimates and behaviors 3. Estimate bioenergetic requirement of cetacean species observed and their ecological impact , and explore the conservation efforts for marine mammal populations in the Strait of Gibraltar