The Chesapeake Bay

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The Chesapeake Bay
Science Course
Course CodeCBAY
Year Opened1997
Sites OfferedMSC
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Writing About Place: The Monterey Bay

Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2017):

The Chesapeake Bay, which has over 11,000 miles of shoreline, is both a national treasure and a regional economic engine. How did scientists and policymakers respond to the precipitous decline in blue crabs that led Maryland crab houses to serve crabs from Texas and Louisiana? What is the role of oysters in the Bay’s health? How will oyster farming effect the wild oyster population? Is urban or agricultural runoff more responsible for the declining health of the Bay? Students wrestle with these and other critical questions affecting this complex ecosystem.

During the field component, students travel on board the historic 78-foot skipjack Sigsbee to various sites on the Chesapeake, camping ashore each evening. While on board, students employ scientific equipment to analyze water and marine life. As they meet and learn from scientists, watermen, government officials, and natives of the area, students apply their new knowledge in real-world settings. Each day students and staff share the responsibility of setting up and striking camp, cooking, cleaning, and assisting with cleaning, operating, and maintaining the ship. The field portion of the program is physically demanding and requires the students to live and work successfully as a cohesive group.

In the land component, students perform lab work and investigations to explore topics such as crab anatomy, physiology, and behavior; estuarine interactions; predator-prey relationships; and the ecological role of the oyster beds. They learn about the watershed, water parameters, and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Students leave with a better understanding of the interplay among man, economics, science, and the environment in both the Chesapeake Bay and the world more broadly.