Whales and Estuary Systems

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Whales and Estuary Systems
Science Course
Course CodeWHLS
Year Opened1996
Sites OfferedBRI, MSC
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog:

In this course, students learn about the whales at Stellwagen Bank near Boston, Massachusetts, and compare and contrast estuary systems along the northeast coast. During their nine-day field component, students sail and sleep aboard the Lady Maryland, a 104-foot schooner, and may travel through portions of the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and the North Atlantic Ocean. Throughout their voyage, students employ scientific equipment, such as plankton and trawl nets and video microscopes, to analyze water and marine life in these estuarine environments.

During the land component, students investigate whale anatomy, physiology, adaptation, and behavior. They use DNA fingerprinting as a technique in whale identification and continue their studies in estuarine dynamics.

Participants are involved in all aspects of the Lady Maryland’s operation, including raising sail, navigating, taking the helm, and performing daily ship maintenance and cleaning. Teamwork is essential for everyone to live aboard this vessel. By the end of the session, students gain firsthand knowledge of the world’s largest mammals and a clearer understanding of their role in the marine ecosystem.