This course will not be offered in 2011; please check out our other courses!


Two semesters of college level biology or equivalent.

Field Marine Science (FMS) is a comprehensive, four-week course in which students become totally immersed in marine science, and have the opportunity to participate in an on-going research project. The FMS teaching staff includes a team of accomplished scientists, who are active in a variety of marine science disciplines. All are excellent teachers -- dedicated to undergraduate education. Field Marine Science is designed for students seeking an intense, hands-on introduction to the marine environment: the course emphasizes field-work in natural habitats, and includes a semi-independent research project. Extensive use is made of the rich and diverse flora and fauna of Appledore Island and the surrounding waters of the Gulf of Maine. The course includes the following topics:

  • Ecology of the Isles of Shoals and the Gulf of Maine.
  • A detailed study of the wide variety of marine organisms that inhabit the waters surrounding the Isles of Shoals -- the invertebrates, algae, fish, birds, and mammals.
  • Physical oceanography of the region, including water masses and circulation patterns, and the geological origins of the Isles of Shoals, the Gulf of Maine, and the North Atlantic.

A typical day includes lectures, field work, and time in the laboratory. Lectures provide the necessary background required for carrying out work in the field. The laboratory is equipped with a seawater system that allows students to observe and identify the living organisms collected from the field, to supplement their study in natural environments. Field Marine Science involves extensive field work that takes advantage of the diverse environments of the Isles of Shoals and includes:

  • The study of intertidal organisms and ecology along the rocky shore of Appledore.
  • Dredging and trawling from SML's coastal research vessel to sample the benthic environment of the surrounding waters.
  • Sampling the water using plankton nets.
  • Visiting whale feeding grounds.
  • Studying seal and seabird colonies on Appledore and neighboring islands.
  • Collecting physical and geological data and samples using standard oceanographic equipment.
  • Island geology.

The intertidal ecological studies culminate in a transect study in which FMS students apply their knowledge of intertidal marine life by conducting their own research projects. The transect study is a comparative qualitative and quantitative analysis of the various intertidal habitats found on Appledore Island.

Living and studying in the marine environment allows Field Marine Science students to gain an understanding of the interwoven nature of life and a sense of responsibility for the ultimate fate of the world's oceans and marine life. The experience has helped many students make important decisions about their future.


  • Lerman, M. 1986. Marine Biology.
  • Sumich, J.L. 1992. Biology of Marine Life 5th Edition
  • Any other general marine biology text
Recommended purchase: Gosner's Field Guide to the North Atlantic (may be purchased at SML or before arrival at most large bookstores)

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