- Nassau, Bahamas
- Program Type:
- Study Abroad
- Degree Level:
- High School
- Program Description:
The best way to learn about corals is up close and in the water. The reefs of San Salvador have a rich variety that is quickly accessible from both shore and boats. Observe coral species we’ve studied in class at various snorkel and scuba sites. Examine rare pillar and fused staghorn corals. Learn how to diagnose coral diseases and colonies experiencing bleaching and algal overgrowth. Analyze and discuss the feeding habits, life cycles, symbiotic relationships and ecological concerns of a coral reef system. As our skills in the water progress, we head out on our first wall dives. Check out a spectacular reef which drops dramatically from 35 to 6,000 feet. Keeping your eyes peeled for a wide variety of reef fish, sharks and sea turtles, descend into deeper waters to survey different growth forms. Then investigate the well preserved fossil reefs of San Salvador, reefs once underwater that you can now explore on land. Need a break after cramming your brain with coral knowledge? Trips to Cockburn Town and other island settlements provide a welcome distraction. Get to know friendly locals as you shop for souvenirs. Climb to the top of Dixon’s lighthouse for a magnificent view of San Salvador. Investigate archaeological sites and the ruins of abandoned sugar, citrus and sisal plantations. Body surf and play football at Grotto Beach, an idyllic spot surrounded by clear turquoise waters. Complete your deep dive as part of your Advanced Scuba course and earn PADI Specialties such as Coral Conservation, Underwater Naturalist and Project AWARE. Take a trip in the skiff out to Green Cay to see rare rock iguanas scramble over the rocks while terns and frigates soar above.
The next phase of our course comprises reef fish ecology. Over a hundred species are found in the waters surrounding San Salvador, each with unique behaviors and habitat preferences. After some introductory ichthyology lessons, we’ll focus on the details of different fish families. Sea basses, parrotfish, stingrays, puffers… we cover these and many more. Visits to shallow patch reefs and deeper walls get us up close to the creatures we study. Learn how to hover upside down to find ledge-dwelling basslets and hamlets as you become master fish stalkers! Soon you can tell related species apart with no more than a quick glance. These skills will soon come in handy! We spend our final days as professional marine biologists in training, assisting with ongoing international research programs. We design and carry out our own underwater fish count surveys for REEF and help with monitoring projects. Then using the skills we learned on the REEF surveys, we break into smaller research teams and conduct our own research projects. Preparation and teamwork is essential for these scuba-based studies, but we’re ready. An evening hike to North Point provides a breezy place to watch the sun sink into the ocean. Maybe we can even see the green flash! In this beautiful setting, we marvel at how much we’ve learned, explored and accomplished, and at how fast three weeks can fly by.
Fascinated with the underwater world or interested in becoming a marine biologist? Join us at the world renowned Gerace Research Center in the eastern Bahamas to learn about the marine world and intricate reef systems firsthand, with the reefs, seagrass beds and beaches of San Salvador as your classrooms. The sheltered waters of Graham’s Harbour are immediately accessible to the Center, with nearby seabird colonies and patch reefs. Other study areas close by include hypersaline lagoons filled with ancient stromatolites, mangrove channels and fringing reefs that are home to an abundance of colorful marine life big and small. Under the instruction of professional marine biologists, the curriculum is designed to anchor traditional learning with immediate real-world application and hands-on experience. The combination of dive training, field experiments, lectures, exams and marine surveys provides a comprehensive overview of tropical marine biology. Earn three marine science college credits through Lesley University as well as 5 PADI diving certifications.
- Setting Description:
- While it’s still being debated to this day, San Salvador is believed by many to be the site where Columbus first discovered the New World. 520 years later, a multitude of discoveries are still taking place on this secluded stretch of paradise in the eastern Bahamas. Only this time they’re mostly happening underwater, where the role of Columbus will be played by you, a marine-biologist-in-training. Base camp is at the Gerace Research Centre, located on the north shore of the 63 square-mile island. A former submarine tracking base, this field station is crawling distance to rich snorkel and dive sites crawling with large schools of research subjects. On San Salvador, marine biology is best studied experientially, on the reefs, in the sea grass beds and mangrove channels and on miles and miles of endless beaches, which is exactly how you do it. Go beyond the classroom and venture to the Dixon Hill lighthouse. Meet the locals Cockburn. Mingle with iguanas at Green Cay. Chill on emerald-b
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