Marine Science Majors

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Click here for a detailed four-year plan (PDF)

Marine Science Degree Plan (PDF)

Students who plan to pursue a marine science major should be well prepared in the sciences. High school courses should include mathematics through trigonometry, biology, chemistry and physics. Secondary school courses in marine biology or oceanography may provide additional background, but are not required.

Marine science majors are required to take the introductory sequence of Introduction to Marine Science, Introduction to Cellular, Genetic & Molecular Biology, Botany, Zoology and Oral Communication in the Biological Sciences. After completing these courses, students must take Marine Ecology and an additional minimum of 16 credit hours of upper division marine science courses, six hours of which must be chosen from Marine Geology, Physical Oceanography, and Biological Oceanography. Required allied courses include chemistry (a full year of Introductory Chemistry, as well as a full year of Organic Chemistry), a full year of Math (Calculus 1 and Statistical Methods in Science), a full year of Physics, and Senior Seminar.



Marine Science, Biology and various other classes are held in either MSC-214 room (holds 25pers), MSRI-243 lab room (holds 60pers), MSRI-244 lab room (holds 60pers), Perry McCall Outdoor Classroom (holds 25pers), Dolphin Conference room (holds 15pers) or the Schultz Conference room (holds 15pers). If you would like to reserve one of these rooms, please contact our Facilities Coordinator Debbie Guy at or call (904) 256-7024.

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Amy Kalmbacher (Environmental Scientist, FDEP) and Heather McCarthy (Education/Outreach Coordinator, FDEP) met Dr. Dan McCarthy, Marine Science Professor at Jacksonville University, and his BIO/MSC 302 Invertebrate Zoology class to discuss a) FDEP and the NE Florida Aquatic Preserves, and b) joint JU-NEFLAP collaboration to study the fouling community of organisms within the NRSJRMAP. The JU students designed and constructed Hester-Dendy racks, and Amy finished constructing 3 racks based on their template. Amy and Heather deployed Hester-Dendy racks at 3 remote sites and met the students to give them a boat ride at low tide over to the datasonde piling, where we deployed the rack with them. Amy Kalmbacher took the students over to the datasonde station, pulled up the datasonde, and talked about the NEFLAP water quality monitoring program.



What aspect worked:

We had a discussion on the dock about the fouling community study -- how FDEP (Amy and Heather) will deploy and monitor the Hester-Dendy racks between Jan. 20, 2011 and April 2, 2011 at each of our four water quality monitoring sites (Lofton, Nassau, Clapboard, and Kingsley). Heather showed the students a map of the sites and graphs of the salinity, Temp, and DO. We discussed how the different water quality parameters might affect the kinds of organisms that settle on the Hester-Dendy racks.

What kind of audience attended the event:

Audience was the JU Invertebrate Zoology class BIO/MSC 302. We met with them during their 3-hr lab session.

What would you have done differently:


We had to take the class in 2 separate trips in the boat to visit the pilings where the Hester-Dendy racks would be deployed – only the first group got to actually see the rack being attached to the pilings. 


The US Green Building Council North Florida Chapter is excited to announce the upcoming screening of "Climate Refugees" at 5 Points Theater in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 31st from 5:30-8:30pm.

"Climate Refugees" will be the first of six films in our 2011 Green Carpet Film Series, one of our many efforts as a local 501(c)3 non-profit to foster genuine dialogue, increase awareness and education of sustainability issues, and empower action towards a more sustainable region. "Climate Refugees" premiered at Sundance and featured in the Copenhagen summit in 2010 and is an important and timely documentary film that uncovers the unbelievable plight of people around the world displaced by climatically-induced environmental disasters. The film illuminates – for the first time – the human face of climate change as civilization now finds itself facing the confluence of overpopulation, lack of resources, and a changing climate.

USGBC NF Green Carpet Film Series

Climate Refugees

When: MONDAY, January 31, 2011 (only ONE local screening of this film)


· 5:30 - 6:00PM Social hour and check-in

· 6:00PM Film Starts

· 7:50 - 8:30 PM Expert Panel Discussion

· Master of Ceremonies - Julie Watkins - ActionNewsJax, The Girls Gone Green

· Dr. Henry Thomas - Tenured Associate Professor at UNF, Department of Political Science and Public Administration

· Jerry Mallot - Cornerstone Regional Development and Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce

· Tom Larson - Sierra Club Northeast Florida and Southeast Alliance for Clean Energy

· Brian Teeple - Northeast Florida Regional Council

· Charles Pattison - 1000 Friends of Florida


Where: 5 Points Theater, 1028 Park Street (Riverside), Jacksonville, FL

Cost: $10 per person


Be sure to purchase your tickets early and tell your friends, family and colleagues. We expect to sell out and be able to bring you more cutting edge movies in the future. You don't want to miss this event!

Additional Trailers:

o – 3 minutes (includes footage with Newt Gingrich)

o – 7 minutes



Applications are open for summer classes at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, a marine lab in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

The following full immersion, 9-credit classes are offered in marine science, in two 5-week sessions:


A TERM: June 20-July 22:

Marine Invertebrate Zoology

Experimental Approaches to Understanding Ocean Acidification Comparative Invertebrate Embryology Marine Bioacoustics


B TERM: July 25-August 26:

Evolution and Development of the Metazoans Fish swimming: Kinematics, ecomorphology, behavior, and environmental physiology Marine Algae Marine Birds and Mammals


For further information visit and see below.

Applications are due Feb 1, but will be accepted beyond that date in courses where space is available.


Florida Museum of Natural History

University of Florida

Gainesville FL 32611-7800 USA


Phone: 1 (352) 273-1948

FAX: 1 (352) 846-0287




Session A; Gustav Paulay & Jonathan Geller This course takes advantage of the rich marine biota of the Friday Harbor region to teach experientially about marine biodiversity.

Alternating with two lectures a day, students will study living representatives of most major groups of marine animals in the laboratory, and through fieldwork in diverse marine habitats. The course reviews the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary and ecological context, focusing on a comparative study of form, function, and life history. We will review all animal phyla, and also explore diversity within phyla based on available exemplars.

Biodiversity is one of the most topical subjects in biology, partly because of its accelerating erosion as a result of increasing human pressures and global change. Having a working knowledge of the diversity of life is also fundamental to the study of any subject in biology. Over 90% of the macroscopic species in the marine biosphere are "invertebrates". This course introduces students to this diversity through a study of living exemplars of most major groups of marine animals. FHL is the best location in the US for such a course, given the wealth of local diversity and accumulated knowledge built over a century of investigations.

Applications are welcome from undergraduate students, post-baccalaureates and graduate students. Prior coursework in invertebrate biology or animal diversity is advisable but not essential.

Enrollment is limited to 20 students.




Session A; Michael O'Donnell & Terrie Klinger As new researchers turn their attention to studying the effects of ocean acidification on a broad range of biological systems they are frequently stymied by the inherent complexities of manipulating and documenting experimental conditions. The purpose of this course is to provide students with the skills to design and conduct experimental manipulations of biological systems that are consistent with the current state of the field.


This course will consist of three main components.

First, it will serve as a rapid indoctrination into essential topics in geochemistry, de-mystifying this essential piece of ocean acidification research. This module will include lectures on fundamental topics, practical discussions of measuring techniques and equipment and extensive laboratory experience with the critical measurement tools.

Secondly, students will gain experience with a range of techniques for conducting experimental manipulations of environmental conditions.

Through lectures, demonstrations, and independent research, students will develop skills to design their own experiments. Students will work with a variety of experimental equipment, including laboratory and in-water mesocosm systems. This module will provide practical exercises for designing experimental systems.

Finally, the course will bring students up-to-date on the rapidly changing state of the field. Lectures, independent readings, and discussions will help the class synthesize a bourgeoning body of research. The ocean acidification literature is growing at an exponential pace, and the focused efforts of the entire class will help bring everyone up to speed on the most relevant papers.

The course will consist of lectures, laboratory exercises and discussions. Students will practice lab skills while documenting the carbonate chemistry of the local waters. During the later part of the course, students will engage in short research projects. However, the emphasis will be primarily on careful experimental design and execution (monitoring and troubleshooting carbonate chemistry manipulations).

Applications are welcome from graduate students at all levels.

Potentially, exceptionally qualified undergraduates or postdocs with special interests may also be admitted. This course would be ideal for students at the early stages of designing a research program around ocean acidification.

Enrollment is limited to 15 students.




Session A: Richard Strathmann & Christopher Lowe This course provides extensive hands-on laboratory experience with the fertilization and development of diverse animals. Phyla represented usually include the Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Platyhelminthes, Nemertea, Mollusca, Annelida, Brachiopoda, Phoronida, Bryozoa, Echinodermata, Chordata, Chaetognatha, and Arthropoda.

In addition to the basics of invertebrate reproduction and development, lectures will also include analysis of morphogenetic processes, evolutionary changes in development, and functional consequences of different modes of development. Much of lab time will be devoted to observing and drawing embryos. Lecture and lab practice will also introduce various techniques Field collecting trips to diverse habitats will acquaint students with the environments in which reproduction and development occur and diverse sources of embryos.

The course is intended to serve both marine biologists who wish to understand diversity in modes of development for ecological and evolutionary studies and developmental biologists who wish to broaden their knowledge of embryos because of the resurgent interest in the evolution of developmental mechanisms.

Enrollment is limited to 12 students.




Session A: Charles H. Greene, John Horne & Louise McGarry The primary goal of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of underwater acoustics as well as the acoustic and other complementary methods used to study the distribution, behavior, and community ecology of marine animal populations. By bringing together many of the top researchers in marine bioacoustics, biological oceanography, and marine mammal biology, considerable cross-disciplinary exchange will occur. The students will have a unique opportunity to work side by side with active scientists using state-of-the-art tools and techniques. The course also will act as a research magnet, attracting scientists to conduct their own research in a creative teaching environment that catalyzes interactions across disciplines.

Topics will include: Principles of Underwater Sound, Signal Processing, Zooplankton & Fisheries Acoustics, Marine Mammal Bioacoustics, Acoustic Tracking, Assessing Distribution & Abundance, Predator-Prey Ecology & Behavior, Data Management, Analysis & Visualization.

Enrollment limited to 18 students.




Session B: Billie Swalla & Kenneth Halanych During this course, we plan to review the current hypotheses of metazoan phylogenies and have the students learn a bit about how to construct molecular phylogenies, using datasets pulled from the databases. Then, we will learn about developmental genes and learn how to examine temporal and spatial expression of a gene by in situ hybridization.

Finally, we will allow the students to complete a mini-project, where they choose a question about morphological evolution and clone a gene for phylogeny and expression studies. We do not expect this course to be concentrated only on molecular evidence. We are interested in functional morphologies of marine organisms, and we hope to stimulate students to think in terms of why certain morphologies evolve repeatedly in marine organisms due to selective constraints of the marine environment.

Our understanding of metazoan relationships has been changing, as molecular phylogenies have been constructed and refined. Our current understanding of metazoan relationships allow new hypotheses to be constructed about how body plans have evolved. Advances in Developmental Biology have shown that the metazoans use similar signaling molecules and transcription factors during development in order to elaborate particular morphologies. The cloning and expression of these homologous genes in different organisms allows one to make predictions about how evolutionary processes work during embryonic development. Additionally, rapid advances in genomic sciences have allowed researchers to start unlocking the mysteries of development and organismal evolution in novel ways. One of the objectives of this course will be to introduce students (i.e., future researchers) to the technological and theoretical potential of genomic tools on marine organisms. However, this course will differ from other evolution of development courses in that it will stress a stronger understanding of organismal and comparative biology.

Teaching this course at FHL, allows use arguably the best venue for integrating the molecular aspects of the course with organismal biology for a variety of animals. This course clearly draws a mix of students, as previous times we have taught this course we have had both students who had no molecular experience and students who had not previously had organismal experience.

Enrollment limited to 15 students.





Session B: Paolo Domenici & Dr. John F. Steffensen Fish swimming is a multidisciplinary area of research that encompasses biomechanics, physiology, evolution, ecology and behavior. Knowledge of fish swimming is relevant both for students interested in mechanisms of locomotion, and those interested in locomotor adaptations to the environment. The course will reflect the multidisciplinary nature of fish swimming. The main subjects treated in the course will be: (1) The kinematics and performance of swimming in fish using various locomotory modes (2) The ecomorphology of fish locomotion (3) Locomotor strategies.

(4) Metabolic aspects of fish swimming (5) The effect of various environmental factors on fish swimming.

Specific lectures will be given on the following topics: Introduction to local fish fauna, Introduction to fish hydrodynamics, Fish swimming kinematics and biomechanics (steady and unsteady), Fish swimming performance (steady and unsteady), Scaling of swimming performance, Predator-prey encounters. Fish functional morphology and swimming, Schooling behaviour, Respiratory physiology, Principle of respirometry, Ecophysiology of fish swimming, Metabolism and exercise physiology, The effect of environmental factors on fish swimming, Video analysis techniques, kinematic analysis, circular statistics, respirometry techniques.

These topics will be treated in lectures and laboratory/field sessions.

Students will learn laboratory techniques of video analysis, kinematics, energetics and respirometry. The first half of the course will have an emphasis on lectures and explanations of techniques for studying fish swimming in the laboratory and in the field. In the second half of the course, emphasis will be placed on laboratory and field work. Students will pursue independent research projects. These will be discussed between each student and the instructors. Based on past experience from previous courses taught at FHL, a number of projects will be proposed and rated in terms of their feasibility, their originality and scientific interest. Original projects on fish locomotion, based on the student's personal background and interest, will also be welcomed.

Regular morning meetings will be held in order to discuss various issues such clarifying lecture material, planning logistic matters (fishing, sharing equipment), defining/assigning and updating each project. At the end of the course, students are expected to present the results of their independent projects orally and as a written report in the format of a scientific paper.

Enrollment limited to 15 students.




Session B: Charles O'Kelly & Paul Gabrielson The theme is "principles, methods, and applications of marine algal biodiversity studies", in particular the macro- and microalgae of benthic environments. Students will learn classical and contemporary methods for the identification, classification, and phylogenetic analysis of algae; the theories underlying the methods; the application of biodiversity information in (for example) benthic ecology, cellular evolution, and natural products exploration. Students will gain practical experience in such tools as: specimen collection, preservation, and databasing; light and electron microscopy; DNA isolation and sequencing; computational approaches to phylogeny reconstruction. Field work will be extensive, as the diverse and species-rich aquatic habitats on and around San Juan Island provide ideal sites for the examination of both macro algal and micro algal diversity.

We will emphasize the use of combined approaches to answer questions; individual and group projects will use morphological, ecological and molecular data to assess the diversity of algal populations and interpret that diversity in its ecological context. A sample question:

"What is the best way to find out how many species make up a 'green tide' algal bloom?" At the end of the course, students should be able to use several of the tools now available to identify and classify algae and to critically assess the value of these tools in studies of algal biodiversity and marine benthic ecosystems.

This is a course appropriate for marine biologists, botanists and oceanographers with interests in marine biodiversity, conservation biology, coastal ecology with an emphasis on primary producers, and commercial applications of algae.

Courses on this general theme have been offered at FHL for many decades, and continue to be popular. The course fills a need both for students of phycology per se and for marine biology students specializing in some other sub discipline, for whom knowledge of algae and how to work with them is, or may become, critical. The Northwest Pacific coast of North America is a well-known "hotspot" for algal diversity, and the Friday Harbor Laboratories are both uniquely well sited and uniquely well equipped to explore this diversity.

Enrollment limited to 15 students.




Session B: Breck Tyler & Eric Anderson

Ecology and Conservation of Marine Birds and Mammals The Salish Sea supports a diverse community of marine birds and mammals.

This intensive, field-based course offers motivated students the opportunity to learn about these ecologically and culturally important animals and the conservation problems they face. Perched at the edge of the San Juan Channel, the Friday Harbor Labs are a great place to develop the research skills needed to study a range of species including eagles, auklets, seals, and porpoises. We are excited to offer this new course and welcome applications from undergraduates, post-baccalaureates, and graduate students.

This course emphasizes first-hand learning and makes full use of the Labs' research boats and facilities. Students will learn: 1) the systematics, morphology, physiology, and ecology of local species; 2) field identification and research techniques for studies of populations, energetics, and other topics; 3) relationship of tides and other environmental variables to animal distribution and abundance; and 4) status and conservation of local species. During the first two weeks, lectures, lab demonstrations, and field trips will familiarize students with the local fauna, their habitats, and relevant research techniques.

For the next two weeks, students are expected to work in teams to conduct independent research on the ecology of local species and communities. Projects will cover a variety of topics and will be designed to gather data pertinent to pressing conservation problems.

During the final week, students will present their results and discuss their findings in light of these conservation issues.

Recent evidence suggests that populations of many seabirds and marine mammals are declining in the Salish Sea. However, available data are sparse and much additional study is needed. Student projects will contribute to a growing database of population trends in the San Juan Island region now being developed by other FHL courses and researchers.

Cumulatively these data will help us better understand the ecology and status of local species.

Enrollment limited to 20.