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Coastal Studies Field Experiences

The Coastal Studies Field Experiences are three-week courses that are offered during January and summer semesters. Typically, we will spend one week of preparation on the Hood College campus before traveling to coastal locations to study environmental issues of that locale. Environmental topics will be studied within the framework of the natural, historical, social and cultural milieu. Students will be involved in fieldwork, readings and discussions with local constituencies to develop a holistic view of the development, impacts and possible avenues of resolution for contemporary coastal environmental issues. These courses are offered as part of the Coastal Studies minor.

The locations and facilities chosen for the Coastal Studies Field Experiences provide easy access to a wide variety of marine habitats and nearby sites of historical and cultural interest. Each institution is our base of operations for several days during the course. As such, each provides a comfortable dormitory and kitchen where we prepare our meals, a well-equipped laboratory, scientific library and computers with access to the Internet.

Costs associated with the field experiences include a course participant fee in addition to tuition. The course participant fee will be determined based on estimated transportation, food and lodging expenses prior to the trip. Air transportation is a necessity for the Coastal Studies Field Experiences to South Florida and the Bahamas. For additional question regarding the Coastal Studies Field Experiences, refer to FAQ.

ENSP 380 - The South Florida Watershed

The course will begin with five days of introductory lectures and readings on Hood's campus to orient students to the South Florida watershed we will study first-hand. Participants will then travel to the sites in the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park and the Everglades Agricultural Area for a 10-day field experience. Field work will begin with several days of on-site class fieldtrips where previous lecture materials will be reinforced with personal observations, data collection and discussions with local constituencies. The later portion of the time in the field will be used for analysis and synthesis of information accumulated by the class to produce environmental issue reports on specific topics.

Through travel to sites within the South Florida Watershed, students will be immersed in the environmental issues of this coastal location. Some potential environmental topics explored in the Florida Keys include cruise ship dumping, sponge fishing, nutrient runoff, managing the Key deer and property rights issues. The South Florida experience also includes a visit to Everglades National Park. In addition to exploring the tremendous biological diversity of the park, we will investigate Everglades’ hydrology and its impact on the freshwater of South Florida and the future of the Everglades Restoration Project.

During the South Florida Field Experience we may choose to utilize the scientific and educational resources of the following well-respected institutions:

BIOL 348 - Tropical Marine Ecology

This course takes place at the Gerace Research Center (GRC, formerly the Bahamian Field Station) which is located on the shore of Graham's Harbor on the north coast of San Salvador Island, Bahamas. Students will conduct a first-hand examination of the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics and processes of near shore tropical marine ecosystems. Environments such as corals reefs, sea grass beds, rocky intertidal, sandy beaches and mangrove swamps will be studied. Students will be involved in intensive fieldwork, readings and discussion, which will focus on interactions between the system's biota and the physical and chemical parameters unique to the tropical western Atlantic Ocean.

During this course we will spend much of our time on, in or near the water. To be able to fully participate in all activities, you will need to be able to swim. We will do some snorkeling as a group (previous snorkeling experience is not necessary). We will not do any SCUBA diving, but you are welcome to make your own arrangements for this activity during your free time. A passport is required to enter and leave the Bahamas.