The ocean is the cradle of life and covers 75% of our planet. It is essential for balancing the climate, plays a vital role for the wellbeing of our ecosystems, and is indispensable to the global economy.
The course will examine the natural systems that impact our oceans, including geological, meteorological and biological processes. Students learn about interrelationships between these aspects of the ocean, and how these interrelationships govern earth processes. We will also weigh the consequences of human activity and global changes on ocean systems. The course begins with a description of the ocean basins and the mechanisms of their evolution. The physical and chemical properties of seawater are considered next and the role of the oceans in elemental cycles will be examined. The discussion of physical oceanography includes large-scale patterns, ocean circulation, as well as small-scale phenomena such as waves. The geology of the coastal ocean, beaches, and estuaries leads into a discussion of the ocean’s major communities and the biotic and physical factors structuring them. Topics of current interest (global warming, coastal development etc.) are presented throughout the course. The course’s reading and lecture material will be supplemented by case studies and first-hand investigation into marine science issues while we are traveling the oceans of the world.
Field WorkCountry: South Africa
Date: March 23, 2019
From the port of Cape Town, we will travel south to Hermanus, a small coastal town that is home to the shark lab of the South African Shark Conservancy, where we will learn from a marine biologist and shark researcher about shark research and conservation efforts in South Africa. After lunch in Hermanus, we will visit the Jackass penguin colony at Stony Point during the busy breeding season before returning to Cape Town. Learning Objectives:
- Experience methods for monitoring and protecting endangered marine species
- Appreciate the difficulties of supplying sufficient land base for ecological support of marine species that reproduce on land.
- Understand interactions between marine environment and marine species.