Caribbean Marine Biology

Currently Unavailable
Saturday, March 14, 2020 to Sunday, March 22, 2020
Type of Travel: 
Travel Course
Application Deadline: 
Friday, November 1, 2019
Program Director(s): 

Caribbean Marine Biology program is specifically designed to provide students with a unique field marine biology experience. There are no other life science courses that are devoted to marine biology here at Iowa State University. This course serves a unique role in providing students with an exceptional opportunity to experience firsthand a variety of marine environments on the world's second largest barrier reef system.

Students will have extensive opportunities to observe incredible coral reefs and colorful invertebrates and fish while diving or snorkeling in a variety of marine habitats. Students will have the opportunity to observe and interact with dolphins. Subject areas appropriate for this course include: Biology, GDCB, EEOB, NREM, BBMB, Marine Biology, Zoology, Genetics, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Biological Premedical Illustration, Life Sciences.

Informational Meeting

Thursday, September 19, 2019
5:10 - 6:00 p.m.
Room 119 Science II

Check out the Course Website (including a great video!) here

Program Goals

  • Provide students with a coral reef marine biology field experience
  • Participants will be trained in techniques and take part in coral reef and fish surveys
  • Students will plan and conduct a field research project onsite at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences

Learning Outcomes

  • Have experienced, firsthand, a variety of marine environments
  • Have a working knowledge in regard to coral reef ecology, identification of marine invertebrates and identification of marine fish
  • Have had the opportunity to participate in REEF (Reef Education and Environmental Foundation) coral reef fish surveys
  • Have interacted directly with cetaceans (Tursiops turncatus, bottlenose dolphins) at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences
  • Have planned, researched and implemented a research project onsite at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences

Participant Selection Criteria

  • Students must possess a strong desire to learn about marine environments
  • Students must have successfully completed at least one year of college-level biology. Students must be very comfortable in an open-water aquatic environment (i.e. extensive marine activities: snorkeling or SCUBA diving)
  • Students must be capable of participating in 2-3 open water activities over the course of 12 hrs. (each activity requiring 30-75 minutes)
  • Minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Selection will be based upon a complete application including personal statement and two letters of recommendation with at least one letter of recommendation from an academic advisor/instructor/professor/supervisor
  • SCUBA certification is NOT a requirement.

Please note that there is currently a US Department of State Travel Warning to Honduras. This program will fly directly from the US to Roatan island and back. The group will NOT be visiting the mainland of Honduras (the area of the travel warning).

Due to international quarantine restrictions service animals cannot be accommodated on our study abroad programs. For more information, please contact the Iowa State University Student Accessibility Services Office

Course Information
You will earn a total of 2 credits for BIOL 394A (1 credit) and BIOL 394B (1 Credit) during Spring 2020 semester. Must enroll in both 394A and 394B.

Students will receive preparatory lectures and course work covering topics relevant to coral reef ecosystems and culture of the Bay Islands. The field trip will involve on-site lectures by local experts dealing with topics such as coral reef biology, marine invertebrates, fish and dolphins.

BIOL 394A & 394B This course has a pre-departure course component and a travel component. The pre-departure or seminar portion of the course involves lectures on coral reef biology. The field trip portion or travel component of the course will involve on-site lectures at the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) by local experts and extensive diving/snorkeling activities in a variety of marine habitats on the world's second largest barrier reef system.

For pre-departure part of the course, class will meet during the spring semester at a location and time a TBD. This course will

  • Set the tone for the program
  • Discuss academic portion
  • Lay out expectations and procedures
  • Answer your questions and concerns
  • Cover topics about itinerary, accommodation, meals, safety, health, logistics, travel documents, finances and more
  • Travel portion of the course will take place during spring break of March 2020

Students must take both the on-campus course and complete the travel component

Program Fee
$3,400 (includes roundtrip airfare, lodging, CISI health insurance, in-country arrangements, diving and snorkeling, RIMS Marine Biology Program

Other Fees
$105 study abroad administrative fee charged by Study Abroad Center in 3224 MU (charged directly to U-bill)

Out of Pocket Expenses
$175 Passport and mailing*
$200 Personal expenses (some meals, souvenirs, toiletries, cell phone fees, visa, vaccines and preventative medications, etc.)
$150 Scuba class and materials (Scuba certification with open-water dives and rental of scuba/snorkeling gear)

*If you are a first time traveler in CALS and need a passport, click here to find out how you can get the cost of your passport reimbursed

There are study abroad scholarships available through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences study abroad office in 0018 Curtiss Hall. Scholarship application details are served to CALS students in the learning content section of the study abroad program application. Application deadline for Spring term scholarship applications is November 1, 2019

Other Scholarship Resources

Office Of Students Financial Aid

Affording to go

Iowa State University Student Affairs Scholarships

Application Process
To be considered in the selection process, applicants should have completed the program application in its entirety before the application deadline of November 1, 2019.

  • Once the selection process is complete, you will be notified about the decision.
  • If you are accepted to the program you will be required to commit or decline participation.
  • Typically you will be given 7 to 10 days with a specific commitment date to finalize your decision.

Once you commit to the program, you are officially a participant in the program and will be responsible for all the program cost outlined in the budget. If you withdraw your participation after committing to a program, you will be responsible for all non-refundable payments that were made on your behalf and these charges will be charged to your U-bill.

Tentative Program Itinerary

Satuday, March 14 

  • Afternoon arrival to Roatan.  Transfer to resort, orientation and welcome drink Orientation to RIMS (by                                 Jennifer Keck, Education Coordinator, RIMS)
  • Fish ID Lecture (presented by Pete, PADI instructor)
  • Dinner

Sunday, March 15

  • Breakfast
  • Checkout equipment meet at dive dock, bring c-card!!! Put equipment on boat
  • PADI O/W referrals meet Pete at dive shop
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral – (Front Porch)
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral – (Back Porch) practice fish ID
  • Lunch
  • Discussion - Fish ID
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral (Green Outhouse) practice fish ID
  • Coral Reef Ecology Lecture
  • Fish ID Lecture (presented by Pete, PADI instructor)
  • Dinner

Monday, March 16

  • Breakfast
  • Checkout equipment meet at dive dock, bring c-card!!! Put equipment on boat
  • PADI O/W referrals meet Pete at dive shop
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral – (White Hole #22)
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral – (Mandy’s Eel Garden #5) practice fish ID
  • Picnic Lunch on Maya Key
  • Tour of animals and Mayan exhibit
  • Dive/Snorkel/OW referral (Seaquest) practice fish ID
  • Coral Reef Ecology Lecture
  • Dinner

Tuesday, March 17

  • Breakfast
  • Dive OW referrals meet at dive shop
  • Dive/Snorkel (Barry’s Reef #24)
  • Dolphin Lecture – Part 1 (Jennifer Keck)
  • Lunch
  • Dive/Snorkel – (Fish Den #12) Coral ID Exercise
  • Nocturnal Adaptations – Mickey Charteris, author: Caribbean Reef Life 
  • Night Dive (Mike’s Place #19) – Night snorkel (backside of Bailey’s Key)
  • Dinner

Wednesday, March 18

  • Breakfast
  • Coral Restoration Project
  • Dive/Snorkel – (Herbie’s Fantasy #6)
  • Dive/Snorkel - Projects (El Aquario-The Aquarium) 12:00        Lunch
  • Coral Reef Monitoring Methods
  • Dinner: BBQ fiesta

Thursday, March 19

  • Breakfast
  • Dive/Snorkel (West End Wall #4) – Indicator Species Fish Survey 
  • Dive/Snorkel (Butcher’s Bank #35) Projects
  • Lunch
  • Dolphin Lecture – Part 2 by Teri Bolton, Head Trainer, RIMS
  • Dolphin Training Session
  • Changes in coral populations on Roatan reefs
  • Dinner

Friday, March 20

  • Breakfast
  • Dive – AKR Front Porch– Coral nursery cleaning & maintenance
  • Dive/Snorkel – (Four Sponges #25) Projects
  • Lunch
  • Turtle Talk
  • Dinner

Saturday, March 21

  • Breakfast
  • Last Dive/Snorkel (El Aguila)
  • Dolphin Swim
  • Back reef lagoon - snorkel
  • Lunch
  • Island tour – West End
  • Dinner
  • Check out and pack

Sunday, March 22                     

  • Depart Roatan