NS 3**: Marine Natural History of the North Atlantic                           3 credits

SCHEDULE: Fall intensive every other year

DESCRIPTION: This field-based course is an exploration of marine environments with emphasis on the North Atlantic.  We begin with an introduction to oceanographic topics such as sea floor spreading, wave dynamics, ocean currents and tides, and general marine ecology.  We progress to a survey of marine algae and invertebrate phyla, and culminate with a treatment of marine vertebrates with a focus on sea birds and marine mammals.  This course combines lectures and discussions with intensive field activities such as sea kayaking, tidepooling, and offshore excursions.


INSTRUCTOR: David Gilligan xt. 133/586-2296 (home)  dgilligan@sterlingcollege.edu


                                  At the Sea’s Edge (Fox)

                                  Marine Biology (Castor and Huber)

                                  Seashells of North America (Abbott)

                                  The Book of Whales (Ellis)

                                  Field Guide to Marine Mammals (Sierra Club Books)

                                  Seabirds (Harrison)

                                  Ocean Birds (Lofgren)

                                      Seabirds (Enticott and Tipling)

                                  Seabirds (Gaston)

                                  Course Reader with selections from primary literature

FORMAT: This course is almost entirely field-based and takes place on the Maine and New Brunswick coasts.  We begin with two days of intensive lecture and logistics at Sterling, then move to a series of field camps on the Schoodic peninsula, Mount Desert Island, and Grand Manaan Island in the Bay of Fundy.  From there we continue lectures and discussions, and engage in a rigorous schedule of field activities in a variety of coastal and pelagic environments.  


        students will develop skills and knowledge in the following areas:

                *fundamental oceanographic concepts such as sea floor spreading, wave                                                                                                                     dynamics, ocean currents and tides

                *geologic evolution of the North Atlantic basin

                *introduction to general concepts in marine ecology, including food                                 chains, energetics, limiting factors, etc.

                *identification of major invertebrate phyla, including poriferans,                                         cnidarians, mollusks, annelids, arthropods, echinoderms, and                                 chordates

                *classification and morphological characteristics of cartilaginous and bony                         fishes and identification of the major groups

                *classification and morphological characteristics of pinnipeds and                                         cetaceans and identification of local species  

                *life histories and ecology of North Atlantic marine mammals

                *classification and morphological characteristics of seabirds and                                         identification of local species

                *life histories and ecology of North Atlantic seabirds

EVALUATION:         Active, informed participation (including all lectures, discussions,                                 group quizzes, and field activities): 30%

                        Project and  presentations (2): 30%

                        Assessments: 30%

                        Student Choice: 10%


DAY 1:         Sterling sessions: course introductions

     Travel and trip logistics

     Introduction to marine ecology

     Geographic orientation to the North Atlantic, Gulf of                                              

                                        Maine and Bay of Fundy

DAY 2:                Sterling sessions: equipment and food

                                                     Academics and assignments

                                      Geologic evolution and oceanography of sea floors

DAY 3:         Travel to Mount Desert Island, Maine

                Set up basecamp at Seawall CG (6 nights)

                Orientation to MDI

DAY 4:                Intertidal ecology

tidepool sessions


DAY 5:                Marine invertebrate zoology

tidepool sessions

DAY 6:                Seabirds and seabird ecology

afternoon sea kayaking field trip

DAY 7:         all day field trip to Great Duck Island

                Island ecology of the Maine coast

DAY 8:         seabirds and whale watching field trip

                Marine mammals museum

DAY 9:                travel to Grand Manaan Island, New Brunswick, Canada

                Set up basecamp at Hole In the Rock CG (5 nights)

DAY 10:         Marine mammals: evolution and ecology

                Seabirds and whale watching field trip

DAY 11:        Seabird ecology continued

                Gaskin Museum

DAY 12:        seabirds and whale watching field trip

                Closing circle

DAY 13:         travel to Craftsbury, VT (Sterling)

DAY 14:         review and study sessions

DAY 15:        course final