This course provides a global perspective on the diversity of life in the world’s oceans. It will introduce students to the biological characteristics of marine life and the ecological processes that structure marine ecosystems. It will cover basic concepts of physical and chemical oceanography, and describe major types of marine communities (e.g. intertidal, offshore, kelp forests, deep sea, coral reefs) from the tropics to the Arctic. It will address human interactions with the full diversity of marine organisms and ecosystems across cultures, continents, and taxa. Throughout the course and the trip, the tools and concepts of marine conservation biology will be applied to the various topics covered and the countries visited.
Field WorkCountry: Mauritius
Day: 1 - Wednesday, 9 March
The island of Mauritius offers an excellent opportunity to access and observe marine organisms across a gradient of environmental conditions, from shoreline to the subtidal. Because of its small size Mauritius also allow us to observe the influence of human development on the marine environment, and contrast these effects with relatively undisturbed coastline nearby. Our trip will focus on identifying, describing, and comparing marine species in coral reef environments. During this field trip, we will also have the opportunity to learn about human-made threat to these habitats and conservation and restoration initiatives from local marine research and conservation experts. Our day will start with a tour of the Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) where we will learn about coral reef research and conservation in Mauritius. Following lunch, we will snorkel on coral reef habitats in Blue Bay Marine Park, where we will observe, record and compare the diversity of marine organisms found both above and below the tideline. We will also have the opportunity to meet officials from the park to learn about conservation issues and projects in the reserve.
Students will be evaluated based on two products from the field trip:
1) Production of an ‘identification guide’ including: taxonomic identifications and morphological descriptions (with sketches and/or pictures) of at least 10 marine species observed, details on the environment in which the species were found, and notes on their adaptations to the environment. Prior to the field trip, you will be provided with a species list and information about organisms found in the area.
2) A journal entry comparing and contrasting observations of the environment as we travel across the island throughout the day and talk with local marine research and conservation experts. Specific questions to be addressed will be distributed before the field trip.
What to wear/bring:
This field trip involves time in the water, so your bathing suit is essential and a ‘rash guard’ layer is recommended. Please bring plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, towel, and layers to protect you from the sun. Also please bring clothing suitable for touring around the MOI.