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  • Locations: Athens, GA, United States; Charleston, SC, United States; Savannah, GA, United States;
  • Program Terms: Maymester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Cost of Attendance Sheets: Maymester
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Category: UGA Domestic Click here for a definition of this term Number of Student Participants: 11-20 students
Classes With: U.S. Students, UGA Students Taught By: UGA/U.S. Professor(s)
College/School: Ecology Language of Instruction: English
Minimum number of credit hours: 4 Maximum number of credit hours: 4
Scholarship Availability: Yes
Program Description:

This program will not be running in 2020. For information about 2021, please contact the program director.

Header Mammals
Ecology Maymester Program in Marine Mammals

This program will provide students with a broad overview of issues involved in the study, conservation and management of marine mammals, with a focus on marine mammals common in the southeastern US (bottlenose dolphin, North Atlantic right whale, and Florida manatee).  Course material will serve the needs of those students who may be interested in a career in marine science, as well as those who wish to be intelligent consumers of information on marine mammal issues, including conservation, management, coastal development, and public policy.  (Note:  this program meets the organismal biology or field research requirements for biology and wildlife majors.)


Program Location(s)

Athens, GA; Charleston, SC; & Savannah, GA.

Program Director and Course Leaders

De. Schacke
Dr. John Schacke

Director, Georgia Dolphin Ecology Program
Phone:  706.614.3637

Academic Program

Mammals 1
  • ECOL 3220: The Biology & Conservation of Marine Mammals (required) - 3 credits
  • ECOL 3220L: Marine Mammals Laboratory (required) - 1 credit

Note:  this program meets the organismal biology or field research requirements for biology and wildlife majors.)

ECOL 3220-L is an inquiry-based course, i.e., students are expected to actively contribute to and participate in the learning process, as opposed to the more traditional and passive lecture format.  Instructional methods will include a combination of in-class presentations, demonstrations, hands-on activities, video, class discussions and self-study using print and Web-based instructional materials.  Students are expected to contribute to class discussions and will have the opportunity to play the role of both student and instructor at various times during the course.

Course Topics:
  • “Who” are marine mammals?
  • Evolution/origin of marine mammals
  • General anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on adaptations to the marine environment
  • Ecology and population biology
  • Behavior:  social, reproductive, feeding, cognition, intelligence, and culture
  • Law, public policy, and the politics of human/marine mammal interaction
  • Husbandry:  public display, captive management, research, and rescue/rehabilitation
  • Exploitation of marine mammals:  historical and current  -- from whaling to ecotourism
  • Effects of human activities on marine mammals – anthropogenic sound, chemical pollution and microplastics, coastal development, and fisheries
  • Conservation:  stock assessment, take reduction, and recovery plans
  • Careers in marine mammal science
Mammals 2
Course Activities (in addition to classroom presentations):
In the lab:
  • Species identification via skeletal characteristics
  • Examination of dolphin cranial structures, especially as related to sonar production and cognition/intelligence
  • Dolphin CSI -- clinical necropsy of a cetacean or manatee specimen to determine cause of death, as well as gross examination by students 
On the water:
  • Field trip to Skidaway Institution of Oceanography in Savannah for boat tour of estuarine system, dolphin spotting, photo ID and data collection 

On the road:
  • Field trip to National Marine Fisheries labs and the National Marine Mammal Tissue Bank in Charleston

Housing and Meals

During the coastal part of the course, the group will spend three (3) nights at the Marine Extension dorm at Skidaway Institute and two (2) nights at the SpringHill Suites in Charleston, SC.  

Program Itinerary

Class Meetings.  0800 (8:00 a.m.) until noon each weekday from 15 May thru 5 June, except 27 May (Memorial Day).  All classes on campus will meet in Room 138 Poultry Science.  Given the limited duration of Maymester courses, class time is at a premium and must be used wisely.  Students should plan to be in the classroom ready to work at 0800 every day.  Meeting times may vary slightly depending on class activities scheduled on certain days. 

Field Trip.  We will be taking a week-long, two-site field trip during the course.  The first site is the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography near Savannah.  Activities will include a series of presentations and a full day of on-the-water activities to familiarize students with the natural history of marine mammals in Southeastern waters, the ecology of the Georgia coast and the conduct of bottlenose dolphin research.  More information about this trip will be presented on the first day of class.

Program Ratings:
Accuracy and usefulness of orientation materials:
1 2 3 4 5
Accessibility and quality of health care:
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Safety of location, facilities, excursions, and transportation:
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Academic quality, appropriateness of workload:
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Choice of location for excursions, field trips, site visits:
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Safety, cleanliness, comfort and appropriateness of housing:
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Arrangements for and quality of meals:
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Opportunities to learn about and interact with the local culture:
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Opportunities to learn about and interact with the local culture/people:
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Overall effectiveness of program staff in managing program:
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Effectiveness of program staff in handling academic and personal needs and concerns:
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Value of the program in relation to the cost:
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Overall quality of the program in relation to expectations:
1 2 3 4 5

This program is currently not accepting applications.