Marine Life: Marine Organisms and Their Environments

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Winter 2018 and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

oceanography, marine biology
square yu
marine science


At least two quarters of college chemistry with labs, two quarters of college biological sciences with lab or fieldwork, and ability to work easily with numbers and equations (precalculus or equivalent).

This program focuses on marine organisms, the sea as a habitat, the relationships between the organisms, the physical/chemical properties of their environments, and their adaptations to those environments. Students will study the biology and ecology of marine organisms, as well as physical and chemical oceanographic concepts as they apply to those organisms. The program will offer students the opportunity to refine their field-sampling skills and associated statistics and laboratory techniques. Throughout the program, students will focus on the identification of marine organisms, study key aspects of the ecology of selected species and marine habitats, and develop their understanding of contemporary impacts on the marine habitat. Physiological adaptations to diverse marine environments and the evolutionary history of life from the sea will be also be emphasized.

We will study physical features of marine waters, nutrients, biological productivity, and regional topics in marine science. Concepts will be applied in faculty-designed experiments and student-designed research projects both in the lab and in the field. Data analysis will be facilitated through the use of spreadsheets, analytical software, and elementary statistics. Seminars will analyze appropriate primary literature on topics from lectures and research projects.

Winter quarter will emphasize laboratory techniques and fundamental principles. Spring quarter will emphasize the application of techniques and principles to research projects, as well as guide students in the appropriate collection, analysis, and reporting of their own project results. The faculty will facilitate identification of student research projects, which may range from studies of water quality to ecological investigations of local estuarine animals. Students will design their research projects during winter quarter and write research proposals that will undergo class-wide peer review. The research projects will then be carried out during spring quarter and, at the end of spring quarter, students will document their work in written research papers and oral presentations.

Research Opportunities

Independent group research projects will be an integral part of the spring-quarter activities.

Program Details

Fields of Study

biology ecology environmental studies field studies marine science zoology

Preparatory For

marine science, environmental science, and other life sciences


Winter Open Spring Closed

Location and Schedule

Final Schedule and Room Assignment

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$450 in winter for a five-day trip to Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island; $100 in spring for an aquarium trip or a whale-watching tour.

May be offered again in

Winter-Spring 2019-2020