It might seem obvious at first that a school on a Caribbean island would offer a Marine Ecology class. It’s the perfect place to get to know an amazing variety of marine species. With the ocean literally steps away from the dorms and classrooms, and with boat access to dive and research sites ranging in depth from three to fifteen hundred hundred meters, Island School students are exposed to sea life on a daily basis. So, it makes sense to teach students about all the various species of fish, corals, and more that they may encounter beneath the sea. It also makes sense to discuss food chains, energy flow, environmental threats, and nutrient cycles present in these underwater ecosystems. The Island School Marine Ecology class addresses each of these topics, however, what makes it so unique is the use of these discussions to develop skills that students are able to use when observing any environment. 

Course Objectives

  • To identify marine organism structure & function
  • To better understand local and global marine systems
  • To develop comfort with use of scientific language
  • To identify connections/relationships of organisms
  • To develop observational skills  
  • To develop inquiry and troubleshooting
  • To develop scientific reference skills
  • To foster intimacy with our local waters
One Marine Ecology class engages in a post-dive discussion on the dock.

One Marine Ecology class engages in a post-dive discussion on the dock.

In class this week, students paired up with buddies, donned their dive gear, and descended beneath the ocean's surface at a dive site known as Tunnel Rock. At about 12 meters, each pair took on separate sections of reef and used their dive slates to record observations and questions which would be used to support their post-dive discussion. Back on the dock, this discussion was focused around biodiversity. What did we see? What didn’t we see that we might have expected to? Why? Why is biodiversity important? Why is it important in any ecosystem? Why is it important in our Island School community, and where do we see it manifested? 

Hayden Stein and Nevin Ketchum recording notes during their dive at Tunnel Rock.

Hayden Stein and Nevin Ketchum recording notes during their dive at Tunnel Rock.

The discussion evolved, as it usually does, into a reflection. By the end of class, students found themselves more intimately connected with the place in which they live, and once again asking: how are we a part of this place, and how can we live better in it?

Laela Lunt taking notes as the class reflects on the dive.

Laela Lunt taking notes as the class reflects on the dive.