Marine Life: Marine Organisms and Their Environments

Winter 2018
Spring 2018
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Gerardo Chin-Leo
oceanography, marine biology
Pauline Yu square portrait
marine science

This program focuses on marine organisms, the sea as a habitat, the relationships between the organisms, the physical/chemical properties of their environments, and their adaptations to those environments. Students will study the biology and ecology of marine organisms, as well as physical and chemical oceanographic concepts as they apply to those organisms. The program will offer students the opportunity to refine their field-sampling skills and associated statistics and laboratory techniques. Throughout the program, students will focus on the identification of marine organisms, study key aspects of the ecology of selected species and marine habitats, and develop their understanding of contemporary impacts on the marine habitat. Physiological adaptations to diverse marine environments and the evolutionary history of life from the sea will be also be emphasized.

We will study physical features of marine waters, nutrients, biological productivity, and regional topics in marine science. Concepts will be applied in faculty-designed experiments and student-designed research projects both in the lab and in the field. Data analysis will be facilitated through the use of spreadsheets, analytical software, and elementary statistics. Seminars will analyze appropriate primary literature on topics from lectures and research projects.

Winter quarter will emphasize laboratory techniques and fundamental principles. Spring quarter will emphasize the application of techniques and principles to research projects, as well as guide students in the appropriate collection, analysis, and reporting of their own project results. The faculty will facilitate identification of student research projects, which may range from studies of water quality to ecological investigations of local estuarine animals. Students will design their research projects during winter quarter and write research proposals that will undergo class-wide peer review. The research projects will then be carried out during spring quarter and, at the end of spring quarter, students will document their work in written research papers and oral presentations.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

marine science, environmental science, and other life sciences


Credits per quarter


At least two quarters of college chemistry with labs, two quarters of college biological sciences with lab or fieldwork, and ability to work easily with numbers and equations (precalculus or equivalent).

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$450 in winter for a five-day trip to Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island; $100 in spring for an aquarium trip or a whale-watching tour.

Upper division science credit:

Upper-division science credit may be awarded upon successful completion of all program requirements and sufficient demonstration of upper-division-level work. Standard-level credit will be awarded for completion of work below the expectations of upper-division quality. Credit will be awarded in marine biology, biological oceanography, independent research, and scientific methodology (to include statistics and data analysis).

Research Opportunities:

Independent group research projects will be an integral part of the spring-quarter activities.

Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:

Winter-Spring 2019-2020