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Florida biology students travel across coastal cities to study marine environments

Marine Field Studies Course students at the beachThe University of North Florida is serving as one of the host sites for the Florida Institute of Oceanography’s Marine Field Studies Course. In this unique and one-of-a-kind course, college students from across the State University System will visit coastal universities across Florida to learn and study research in various differing marine environments.

The program begins at UNF with students then traveling to the Keys Marine Laboratory hosted by Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University’s Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and concluding at University of West Florida.

Students will begin with a focus on the salt water and freshwater boundary of the St Johns River and exploring dunes, oyster reefs and salt marshes in Northeast Florida. They will then learn about tropical reefs in the Florida Keys; adventuring among the bays and mangrove forests of Southwest Florida; studying sea grass meadows in Tampa Bay and collecting oceanographic data aboard an FIO research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico; and conducting research along the seashores and sounds of the Florida Panhandle. 

This field intensive five-week course is designed to expand student knowledge of the biodiversity, geochemistry and human impact of Florida’s coastal and offshore ecosystems to have hands-on exploration of the marine ecosystems and collaborate with other students at the universities and research stations throughout the state. 

UNF is one of five members of the Florida Institute of Oceanography that developed the course in 2015 to expand marine and ocean experiences for Florida students early in their academic career. College students typically do not get exposed to the array of ecosystems and academic disciplines in marine biology until they are in graduate school.