If you are interested in receiving course credit from your professors this information may be very helpful.

Many of our students receive 3-4 hours of course credit through directed/independent studies with a faculty member at their university. In most circumstances you need to make this arrangement BEFORE you attend the program. Our programs meet the university requirements with the number of study hours for faculty led instruction, independent work, and field/lab work by including the preparation you are required to do for the week you are in the field.

This information will likely be useful to your faculty adviser;

You will prepare for this program by reading several peer review publications related to humpback whale life history, behavioral ecology, Puerto Rico oceanography, marine ecology, and cetacean biology. In addition to these publications you will read publications related to methods including theodolite work for cetacean tracking, and Pythagoras software. Pre-course preparation will take at least 30 hours to complete and you will have a quiz when you arrive to measure your success in completing this precourse preparation.

Our field time typically begins before the sun rises and continues most of the day light hours. When we are at the field station you will learn to analyze acoustic data using software programs in order to detect humpback whale song and fish vocalizations. You will be instructed on capture-recapture techniques for studying population dynamics and behaviors. Digital images of humpback whale flukes and spots on axis deer (Axis axis) will be our focal study. We will spend many hours during the program session teaching you to identify individuals based on natural markings including color patterns, scars, trailing edge patterns, notches in dorsal flukes of dolphins, and spots on deer. You will very likely leave the program with the ability to participate in matching natural markings in other projects (such as internships).

Two weeks during the field season will include training on Mysticetus Observation Platform software and Marine Mammal/Protected Species Observer techniques. These are highly marketable skills valued for many off shore projects required to have mitigation for marine protected species and marine mammal projects collecting data.

You will receive instruction in the field and at the base station working with the theodolite. Our program is structured to assure you learn how to set up, calculate station height, and use a theodolite from a land based platform.

You will be lectured on the geology, oceanography, and policy (USA and global) related to this project. We are committed to having our students understand the connectivity between whales and the habitat on a local, regional, and global scale. Integrated into these lectures will be challenging you to answer the question, “Why should we care?” helping you to understand that offering the tourists, residents, and policy makers a motive to support conservation of a species or habitat is critical to the success of any conservation effort.

Finally, most students seeking credit for this program are asked by their professor to write a paper or give a presentation to demonstrate the success of the learning experience with us. We encourage this end of the program project effectively creating a cosmopolitan group of ambassadors for marine mammal conservation.

The total hours you will commit to this program, including the pre-course preparation (30 hours preparation, a minimum of 90 hours in the field and the lab at the base station, 20 hours for paper/presentation) will equal 133 hours. This is a conservative estimate as many students will read more publications and our days are very long.

If your faculty adviser needs more information regarding our program, please have them contact Mithriel MacKay, Director of Education and research, at mithriel@marine-eco.org.