Coastal Summer Semester
Experience Georgia’s coastal environments and participate in marine field research at the University of Georgia Marine Institute. Explore the salt marsh, conduct fisheries sampling aboard the Research Vessel Spartina
, see nesting sea turtles, and dive into your own independent research project.
UGA’s Coastal Summer Semester takes place at the University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI)
, on Sapelo Island. UGAMI is a world-renowned center for marine ecological research that attracts scientists and students from around the globe. Students at UGAMI find a vibrant, collegial community of scholars from multiple institutions and fields of study who value and inspire curiosity about the natural world.
Sapelo Island is a 16,500-acre subtropical barrier island off Georgia’s central coast (20 miles north of Brunswick and 50 miles south of Savannah). Accessible only by passenger ferry, Sapelo Island and the surrounding region is largely undeveloped. The R.J. Reynolds Wildlife Management Area and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve comprise most of Sapelo Island’s land area. UGAMI is located on the southern tip of Sapelo Island, on the shore of Doboy Sound, and within the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve
. Nearby natural areas include the Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge, Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area. Georgia’s central coast boasts one of the most pristine estuaries in the lower 48 states of the U.S. Sapelo Island is also the closest point of land to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
UGAMI is a marine field station that supports the research and teaching of faculty from many institutions. The mission of the UGA Marine Institute (UGAMI) is to provide exceptional opportunities for research and university-level education in coastal ecosystems. Located within the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, UGAMI is a living laboratory that offers uncommon access to coastal habitats, including the nearshore ocean, estuarine sounds, salt marshes, tidal creeks, beaches, dunes, maritime forests, and freshwater wetlands. Long-term ecological monitoring data, together with the results from hundreds of published research papers, make UGAMI a treasured field destination for scientists and students.
UGAMI has been at the forefront of estuarine and marine ecology for seven decades. Faculty and students at UGAMI study marine ecology at the molecular, organismal, population, community, and ecosystem levels. UGAMI is the home base of the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE) – Long Term Ecological Research
program, which is part of the National Science Foundation’s Long-Term Ecological Research network
. The GCE is one of the largest ecological research programs in the southeastern United States.
Sapelo Island’s historic Hog Hammock community is a well-known Gullah/Geechee
community. The neighboring town of Darien
, on the mainland, is home to Georgia’s largest commercial fishing fleet. Thus, Sapelo Island and the surrounding region is both culturally and ecologically significant.
– Field Study in Oceanography and Marine Methods
(4 credits). Students will be introduced to field and laboratory methods used to investigate marine ecosystems. This course emphasizes methods for identifying and studying marine organisms, oceanographic and coastal marsh sampling, and other field research methods. Major course topics include: organisms of the marine environment; sampling and analytical approaches for studying invertebrates, plants, and plankton; survey tools for the study of marine ecosystems; and data collection from oceanographic vessels. This course satisfies the laboratory course requirement for Biology majors, or can be used as a Biology elective. It satisfies the methods/skills requirement for Ecology majors.
– Undergraduate Research in Biology
(4 credits) Students will conduct laboratory and field research conducted under the supervision of a faculty member in biological sciences. This course satisfies the laboratory course requirement for Biology majors, or can be used as a major elective. It satisfies a major elective for Ecology majors.
– Independent Study in Oceanography and Marine Methods
(4 credits). Students learn to conduct independent field research in marine biology and oceanography under the supervision of a faculty member, gaining hands-on experience with field sampling gear, laboratory instruments, and data analysis tools. With the help of instructors, students design experiments, sample marine environments, and analyze their data. For Biology majors, this course provides upper level elective credit towards the 39-hour Rule. For Ecology majors, it satisfies a major elective requirement.
Students are required to register for MARS 4500 and one of the independent research courses. To accommodate hands-on learning, enrollment is limited to 15 students.
Permission of department.
For course descriptions, see the University of Georgia’s Course Bulletin
Dr. Damon Gannon (Program Director)
UGA Marine Institute
Dr. Charles Hopkinson
UGA Dept. of Marine Sciences
The 2019 Coastal Summer Semester will take place during Summer Short Session I, June 3 - 28, 2019. Activities will be focused primarily on and around Sapelo Island. A major emphasis of the program is to introduce students to field techniques in marine ecology. As such, approximately half of the instructional time will be spent in the marine habitats surrounding Sapelo Island. Studies will take place from shore and aboard the Research Vessel Spartina
, as well as on UGAMI’s small boats.
In addition to classroom, lab, and field studies in the local habitats, there will be day trips to other sites along the Georgia Coast, including Jekyll Island, Skidaway Island, Brunswick, Darien, and Savannah. Field trips to the mainland will visit other marine science institutions, field study sites, marine resource management agencies, fishery and aquaculture businesses, and marine conservation organizations.
Students and faculty live on-site at the University of Georgia Marine Institute (UGAMI), on Sapelo Island. Student dormitories consist of double-occupancy rooms and are located within 50 meters of the research laboratories and the estuarine waters of Doboy Sound. Each dorm room has a bathroom with shower. Laundry machines are provided, free of charge. Each dorm unit has a fully-equipped kitchen. Dorm units have common lounge areas and a new student recreation room was completed in summer of 2019.
UGAMI provides all dinners, which are served in its dining hall. Faculty usually join the students for dinner. Because so much time during the day is spent in the field and the field schedule varies so much (often depending on the tides and weather), students provide their own breakfasts and lunches, which they can prepare in their dorm kitchens. Weekly grocery shopping trips to the mainland will be organized by program staff.
Students will be responsible for tuition for 8 credit hours (HOPE can be applied) and applicable UGA fees.
The program fee is $1600. This covers accommodations and dinners for 4 weeks. Transportation between UGAMI and all field study sites will be provided (as will transportation for grocery shopping trips).
The program fee does not include student travel to and from the coastal sites at the beginning and end of the course. Students will provide their own breakfasts and lunches. Grocery supply trips will happen at least once per week and the dormitories have well-equipped kitchens for storing and preparing food.