by Dave Ginsburg
Team Guam and Palau 2011 is ready to go! We depart for Catalina – the first leg of our journey – on Monday morning.
As my co-instructor Jim Haw mentioned, the 2011 course is one of the inaugural Maymester experiences in USC Dornsife. In preparation for the trip, we created a two-unit, introductory course on scientific diving, which included lectures on ecosystem management, environmental sampling protocols, diving physiology and medicine, and of course, actual diving experiences at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center off Catalina Island … all team members are now scientific research-divers-in-training!
Our plans for Maymester 2011 include collaborative research projects with environmental scientists and resource managers on each of the three islands that we will visit. For example, in the Republic of Palau we will work with the Coral Reef Research Foundation and the Koror Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement to assist in an ongoing survey and baseline species map of Ngederrak Reef Marine Protected Area. Our team will dive and conduct critical research with local leaders in marine science and environmental ecology.
This is a tremendous opportunity for our students who (as part of our curricula) are trained to identify a variety of Indo-Pacific indicator species ranging from reef fish to macro algae. Our team will dive and collect data that will support conservation and management strategies to protect the fragile coral reefs of Guam, Palau, and other Micronesian islands.
This trip is drastically different from classroom learning … it allows students to become involved in real-world research projects that will impact the future health of our environment. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for the students to prepare for future careers that will benefit our environment’s health while also establishing powerful peer groups and communities at USC and beyond.
From Micronesia to Antarctica, scientific diving has played an integral component of my marine biology teaching and research objectives. This course represents more than 15 years spent exploring some of the world’s most remote marine and terrestrial environments, and I’m excited to be a part of the 2011 USC Environmental Studies Dive Team!
Please follow our journey on this blog, where individual team members will share information about their experiences and insights during the trip.