dates: onday, July 27 - Monday, August 10, 2015

credit hours: 3 semester credits

cost of tuition from summer 2014:
CU/UNH students: $5,371*
(INCLUDES room, board, tuition, 1 round-trip fare between Portsmouth, NH and Shoals)
non-CU/UNH: $6,400 (INCLUDES room, board, tuition, 1 round-trip fare between Portsmouth, NH and Shoals)
*UNH students, follow this link for info about summer tuition discount especially for current UNH students!

Watch this video and spend a "day in the life" of Underwater Research @ Shoals (produced by UNH Video Productions)

Prerequisites: One semester of college level biology or equivalent, recognized SCUBA certification, and approval to SCUBA dive at Shoals Marine Laboratory.

Once accepted, students who are divers must apply for approval to SCUBA dive at SML. Please follow these links to apply for approval to SCUBA dive (2014 links will be available before the end of March).

Shoals Marine Lab Handbook for Diving Safety must be READ by all approved SCUBA divers!

Simply stated, the primary goal of Underwater Research is to provide guidance and opportunities for students to conduct original research underwater. Although working underwater creates a unique set of conditions and constraints, the essence of good research remains unchanged regardless of location. Accordingly, a large portion of the course is devoted to the concept of research, particularly as it applies to subtidal marine ecology. During the first week, morning and evening lectures cover the philosophy of research, hypothesis testing and experimental design, theoretical and practical aspects of sampling, current ecological research in the Gulf of Maine, and new techniques for underwater research. Conducting research underwater additionally requires a sound understanding of the many physiological limitations on the underwater researcher, thus lectures during the first week also cover advanced aspects of diving physics and physiology, theory and use of diving tables, and hyperbaric medicine. Additionally, students sharpen skills in critical and constructive thinking by presenting during three evening discussion sessions, oral critiques of several papers reporting current subtidal research. Afternoon diving activities during the first week consist of an initial check-out dive, three dives to collect data for class-wide laboratory exercises, and one dive to identify organisms as part of an underwater exam.
*See below for information about becoming a Scientific Diver at Shoals!

All students have the opportunity to design and conduct original research in the form of a detailed research "Proposal" on a subject of their choice during the second week of the course. Students work closely with the instructors to formulate research questions (based on observations made during the first week and/or lectures) and the appropriate sampling and experimental approach to answering the questions. It is unrealistic to expect that sufficient data for a research "Project" can be collected in one week, especially when the project is conducted underwater. Consequently, the research "Proposal" allows students to collect some preliminary data, as well as to design sampling regimes and experiments that would be done if sufficient time were available. Weather permitting, students can plan on 11-14 dives during the second week for the collection of preliminary data using a variety of research tools.


  • Dr. James Coyer, Shoals Marine Laboratory, Cornell University
  • Dr. Elizabeth Siddon, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    *Students may attain AAUS Scientific Diver status in the Shoals Marine Laboratory Dive Program upon completion of the Underwater Research course, which includes Dive Accident Management Training (O2 Administration, Basic First Aid, CPR). The Shoals Marine Laboratory is an Organizational Member of the American Association of Underwater Scientists, and Scientific Diver status conforms to AAUS standards. Pending successful completion of the course (including a minimum of 12 dives), students will receive a Verification of Training Letter, which allows them to apply for permission to dive under the auspices of AAUS-sanctioned Scientific Diving Programs at universities, state and federal governmental agencies, and marine aquaria throughout the United States. Scientific Diver Status is retained as long as a minimal number of dives are completed each year and medical requirements are updated at regular intervals (see Section 8 of the Shoals Marine Laboratory Handbook for Diving Safety. Virtually all Scientific Dive Programs in the United States are AAUS Organizational Members and require participants to possess AAUS-sanctioned Scientific Diver Status.

    Information about Divers Alert Network (DAN): http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/

Back to the Top