Environmental Studies: Students Jump Into Icy Waters in the Pacific Northwest

The two-week course in environmental studies, “Pacific Coastal Environments” on the rugged Oregon coast, gives students used to exploring warm Florida waters a welcome change. They survey salt marshes, tour temperate rainforests, take in tide pools, climb cliffs, meander through mudflats, clamber after crabs, search sea lion caves and delve into deep sea biology on a research cruise. When they visit a mammal and bird lab/museum for a look at vertebrates, they may find such specimens as a Loggerhead Turtle heart and Harbor Porpoise fetus! Students call a cracking good cook-it-yourself crab dinner and s’mores at the beach campfire a major highlight. Course leader, Associate Professor Kevin Johnson, shares his passions for marine invertebrate ecology, zooplankton and invasive species. Just for fun, he and his grad students dress up like their favorite plankton each year. His enthusiasm can make a student who lags like a sea slug feel like a sea star. If your heart beats faster when you find chitons, sea snails and salamanders, not to mention puffins and other bird life, this experience is for you!


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