The course takes an ecological approach to the study of marine organisms as exemplified in temperate, semitropical and tropical environments. During the spring semester, students will attain an essential understanding of the principles of marine biology as it applies to a broad range of marine ecosystems and learn field study techniques appropriate for comparative study of marine environments. This knowledge and these skills will be used during the field study part of the course in the summer where students will study temperate barrier island beach and salt march ecosystems on the Georgia coast and tropical coral reefs, rocky intertidal and mangrove ecosystems on Roatan Island, Bay Islands, Honduras. Special fees are required for the international travel component and for scuba diving at Roatan. Limited to 14 students.
This course does not meet during the Spring semester. Instead, there is an intensive on-campus program during the summer. See the itinerary for more details.
Fun fact about BIO215: Marine Bio! "One year we swam with a pod of perhaps 200 dolphins jumping and diving around us. We have seen mother dolphins feed fish to their young. On another occasion we jumped in off our boat to swim with a 30 foot-long whale shark." - Dr. Pilger
Biology course with a lab
Additionally, in order to fulfill this application, you must have permission for Dr. John Pilger.
10:00 am Meet at Bullock Science Center parking lot. Pack bus.
10:30 Depart for Sapelo Marine Lab. (~275 miles, ~5 hr.) Lunch along the way.
4:30 pm Arrive Meridian, GA ferry dock
5:30 Ferry to Sapelo Island and transfer to UGA Marine Institute. Unload ferry, load truck. Settle into dorms.
Salt marsh overview and walk. Prepare materials for marsh transect
7:45 am Breakfast
8:15 Organize/load field gear for work on beach transect.
8:30 Nannygoat Beach transect (low tide 1:04pm, -0.6). Beach seine. Swim and relax a bit.
12:00 Return to dorms for lunch
1:30pm Sample analysis and specimen identification in wet lab.
If needed, return to lab to finish beach sample analysis and specimen study (e.g. sediment analysis, extract meiofauna, specimen identification, data organization, etc.). Turtle nesting watch on Nannygoat Beach? (No white lights, red only!)
7:45 am Breakfast.
9:00 Truck to ferry dock. Board R/V Spartina for trawling and plankton sampling offshore, in Doboy Sound and a tidal creek. Set L/D bottles at PO Creek.
1:30 Analyze Spartina trip plankton. Compile data from trawls. Zonation study at ferry dock. Fouling organism community (Post Office Creek); Return and collect/record productivity data.
Night plankton sample and analysis.
7:30 am Breakfast
8:30 Set bottles in lab tidal creek for L/D primary productivity study. Organize for afternoon work. Recover and process L/D bottles from creek. Lab tidal creek plankton sample collection and analysis.
1:30 Salt Marsh transect at “Salt Pond”. Salt marsh sample analysis and data summary work in lab.
Finish marsh transect sample, plankton and L/D data compilation and analysis
8:00 am Breakfast
~9:00 Maritime forest walk, light house visit. Island tour with Cabretta Beach walk and inlet and beach dynamics observation.
12:00 pm Lunch in field. Swim. Return to lab; finish data organization, packing for departure
6:00 am Snack breakfast. You MUST be up early and ready. The ferry will not wait!
6:15 Load personal and lab gear into truck
6:30 Depart for ferry dock; Load gear to ferry
7:00 Ferry to Meridian dock
7:30 Transfer gear to our van and return to Atlanta
12:00 Breakfast/Lunch en route
~1:30pm Arrive ASC. Unload lab gear and distribute items for trip to Honduras.
Day off to clean up, reorganize and rest. Prepare for Honduras
Time and details for meeting the Delta flight to be announced.
Welcome to Anthony’s Key Resort and orientation to the Institute for Marine Sciences. Lunch at AKR
Unpack and get settled
3:00pm Orientation to RIMS
4:30 Reef Fish identification workshop (RIMS Classroom)
NOTE: Itinerary at while at IMS may vary depending on weather and sea conditions.
7:00 am Breakfast
8:00 Rent dive equipment as needed. Check out dive and equipment adjustment.
9:00 Board boats for trip to West Bay Beach for lagoon and back reef snorkel from beach.
12:00 Lunch at resort
2:00 Snorkel to fore reef slope, buttress, barren and breaker zones. Collect plankton sample on return trip.
3:30 Plankton study (Laboratory)
4:30 Lecture: Coral identification and Coral reef ecology (RIMS classroom).
9:30 Board boats for trip around the island to south side. Snorkel on fringing reef.
12:00 pm Lunch at Maya Key – visit animal sanctuary and rehabilitation facility and learn about AKR’s animal conservation efforts.
2:00 Scuba dive opportunity. Others have time for snorkeling, projects, etc..
5:00-6:00 Dolphin Biology lecture: Anatomy, physiology and senses (RIMS classroom)
8:30 Depart for Man-O-War Key. Lagoon and back reef transect study
1:30 Meet in lab to work up lagoon/reef transect data.
5-6:00 Dolphin lecture: Communication, cognition and conservation
6:45 Night snorkel
~8:30 pm Dinner
7:00 am Breakfast
8:30 Depart for Man O' War Key. Snorkel trip to study mangrove communities and zonation on red mangrove prop roots. Return to lab to analyze the sample.
12:00 pm Lunch
1:00 Finish prop root zonation analysis and data representation.
2:00 Scuba dive opportunity. Others have time for projects or free time.
4:30 Comparison of mangrove root and pier zonation from Sapelo.
8:00 pm Dinner. Barbecue on Anthony's Key; indigenous dancers, crab races and limbo contest.
7:00 am Breakfast
8:30 Project work and scuba/snorkel opportunity.
12:00 Lunch on the Key
2:00 Rocky shore zonation. Bailey’s Key. Comparison of transects from our three sites.
6:30 Night scuba dive
8:00 pm Dinner
7:30 am Breakfast
8:30 Last scuba dive opportunity. Options for others: projects, horseback riding, swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, reading or relaxing.
10:30 Dolphin swim at Bailey’s Key. Meet at lab dock.
12:00 pm Lunch
1:30 Finish work on projects as needed. Clean up in lab. Distribute lab equipment to individuals for packing with personal gear.
3-5:00 Bus trip to Coxen Hole (Roatan City) or West End. Shopping opportunity.
5-7:00 Pack personal items and lab gear for return flight to Atlanta
Flight to Atlanta
Itineraries are subject to change.
This program requires good physical conditioning, lifting boxes, hiking on moderate terrain in warm and humid environments. Swimming in the open ocean with moderate currents. Surface diving while snorkeling.
Bugs, large lizards, tarantulas are regularly seen but never a problem. Students must be able to swim and snorkel in open ocean water, often with moderate currents, and at night in a more enclosed area. They will encounter exotic invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, marine mammals (dolphins) and occasional sharks. These are safe encounters, we don't take chances and students are not forced to go beyond their comfort level.
Apply for a passport if you don’t have one. If you have one, check the expiration date, and renew your passport unless it is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel. You will need to present your passport number by the stated deadline (no exceptions). Allow at least three months for passport application or renewal. YOU MUST HAVE A VALID PASSPORT BY FEBRUARY 1, 2018!
Included in cost of flight. Travelers to Honduras will receive the visa upon arrival.
Students are responsible for own accommodation for on-campus portion of this program
Dorm-style accommodation while at Sapelo Island
Shared hotel accommodation while in Honduras
Application Deadline - including deposit/application fee
Award Application Deadline
Decision date for Program and for Awards
Deadline to commit/decline your placement This is financially binding
Accepted Students Meetings - mandatory for participation
First Payment Installment due
Final Payment Installment due
Passport Information due - no exceptions
All additional paperwork in Carta - no exceptions
Entry Visa Information due (if required)
In order for your application to be considered, you must complete the following prior to the above indicated Application Deadline:
Application for Faculty-led Programs
Letter of recommendation
$50 non-refundable deposit
Acknowledgement of Passport Requirement
Faculty-led Programs Agreement and Release
Award Application (optional)
Applications that do not have these requirements completed will not be considered for review by the faculty or the Center for Global Learning.
As a faculty-led program participant, you will be expected to take responsibility for not only your coursework, but also the additional requirements that come with participation in group travel:
Complete all course work in keeping with the course's syllabus and maintain attendance throughout the on-campus course
Submit information and meet deadlines established by the Center for Global Learning.
Be a full-time, degree-seeking students in good standing at Agnes Scott College.
Have completed one year or 24 credit hours at Agnes Scott prior to the experience abroad.
Meet any program-specific requirements, including co- and pre-requisite courses.
Once accepted to the program, students are required to attend a mandatory Accepted Students Meeting in the Fall semester and pre-departure orientation session in the Spring.
Graduating seniors are eligible to apply, but are not eligible for awards. They cannot be dependent on the credits of this course for graduation.
$3,640 per person
Transportation as detailed in itinerary
Activities included in itinerary
All meals (combination of group meals and meal allowance)
Rental of dive lights
Cost of passport
Any immunization cost
Scuba gear or fee
As part of your application to a faculty-led program, you will also have the opportunity to complete an award application, due at the same time. The Center for Global Learning will use your application to find available awards for which you are eligible based on the requirements (e.g. GPA, major, or level of financial need) of the various awards for faculty-led programs. A Committee will review all applications for content and eligibility. The decision on acceptance to the program and award amounts will be communicated at the same time.
Awards vary based on both need and merit. The maximum amount anyone can receive is $3,000.