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Marine Biology

Course Description

About 70% of the Earth is covered by water. Even today, much of the world’s oceans remain unexplored. Marine scientists make exciting new discoveries about marine life every day. In this course, students will discover the vast network of life that exists beneath the ocean’s surface and study the impact that humans have on the oceans.

Unit 1: Humans and the Ocean

This unit will discuss some of the current research that marine biologists are doing. Topics such as global warming, climate change, and other human activities will lead us into a discussion of the ocean’s fragile ecosystem. To that end, we will also investigate the complex and necessary relationship between the ocean and humans. Besides giving us food and other resources, the ocean has become a source for several different types of energy, which we will explore later in this unit. Finally, we will learn about some of the devastating effects that different types of pollution have on the ocean environment.

Unit 2: Plankton, Plants, and Algae

In this unit, we will cover two important systems within the ocean environment: microscopic life and plant life. The chemistry of the ocean as well as most larger marine animals rely on tiny life forms that are usually invisible to the human eye. Scientists are still studying the mysteries of these tiniest ocean creatures. Phytoplankton and Zooplankton are two important types of life that we will discover in the first part of this unit. In the second half of the unit, we will learn about plant life in the ocean and how these plants sustain much larger systems of life within the ocean ecosystem. We will also learn what happens when ocean plant life becomes depleted as an effect of various pollutants or environmental changes.

Unit 3: Animals of the Sea I

This unit will cover two of the four major categories of animal life (invertebrates and fish) in and around ocean ecosystems. We will begin the unit with a brief explanation of the classification system used in all branches of science. This discussion will then launch us into one of the most important categories of marine animals, invertebrates, which account for an unbelievable amount of life on earth. We will discuss some of the ocean’s invertebrates (like sponges and worms), and then discuss some vertebrates, from small fish to larger predators (sharks), that coexist in the ocean waters.

Unit 4: Animals of the Sea II

As the second unit of a two-part section on animals of the sea, we finish up with mammals of the oceans, as well as seabirds and reptiles. We will begin by exploring well known, and often well loved, marine mammals: dolphins, whales, and seals. Some of the adaptations, characteristics, and behaviors of these mammals may surprise you! We will then move on to a discussion of sea birds (like pelicans and penguins) and reptiles (including sea turtles and crocodiles), where we will see amazing feats of cunning, agility and sacrifice practiced by both sets of animals, in order to maintain life and, in some cases, family in the ocean environment.

Unit 5: Habitats and Ecology

Exploring marine habitats and their ecology is the main way that scientists learn about how organisms live, how they interact with each other and different species, and also how they interact with their environment. This type of study is a holistic approach that ranges from the smallest microscopic organisms to understanding the global impact that humans are having via pollution and human-related activity. When scientists are able to observe the entirety of a marine habitat, they get a better sense of how each individual component contributes to the system as a whole.

Unit 6: Life at Extremes

As we saw in the previous unit, there are many unexplored regions in the ocean. What are these extreme environments like and what life actually exists there? Also, how do scientists study these creatures? These are just some of the questions we will tackle in Unit 6. From submarine volcanoes and brine pools to strangely adapted fish, crabs, and worms, this unit will take you to the depths of the ocean to see just how much we still have to discover and research in the marine environment.

Unit 7: Intelligence in the Sea

New research by marine scientists provides solid proof that many marine animals don’t just “exist” in the ocean. Many of these species exhibit patterns of behavior that are consistent with intelligence, or the ability to attain and then put to use knowledge and skills, much in the same way that humans do. In this unit, we will explore how marine animals like dolphins, whales, seals, and fish exhibit an ability to think. As we look at behavior similarities between dolphins, we will explore certain brain and systematic functions that indicate complex processing abilities. We will also observe how schooling and shoaling patterns seen in fish may prove a form of intelligence as well.

Unit 8: Futures in Marine Science

Futures in Marine Science

Course Details

  • Date October 4, 2012
  • Tags High School Electives, STEM
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