Students explore reefs, biology, culture in Curaçao field trip

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Each year, Dr. Matthew L. Partin offers a field experience: BIOL 4750 Marine & Aquatic Sciences Field Trip - Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. This course explores the reefs, biology and culture of Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. Students have the opportunity to engage in discussions with various scientists, including those at the Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity (CARMABI), Curaçao Sea Aquarium, and Coral Restoration Foundation. Some highlights include participating in the “Dolphins in Depth” course at the Dolphin Academy, going behind the scenes to observe aquarium operations, daily scuba/snorkel reef surveys, and participating in the PADI Coral Reef Conservation course.

The choice to offer a Study Tour in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles is related to associations between Partin and Mike Brittsan, M.Sc., director of aquatic sciences at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium/SECORE Board of Directors chairman. SECORE International has strong research programs at both the CARMABI and Sea Aquarium in Curaçao.

In October 2016, Partin visited CARMABI and Sea Aquarium to establish relationships with these institutions. The Sea Aquarium owner/CEO has enthusiastically agreed to receive at least two BGSU students for extended paid internships on a regular basis. He asked Partin to oversee the intern screening process that sends BGSU students in pairs.

"This is an amazing opportunity for our students who will not only interact with professional aquarists," Partin said, "but they may have opportunities to interact with scientists from The Smithsonian Institution, Deep Reef Observation Program (DROP), Sea Turtle Conservation Program, Sexual Coral Reef Reproduction (SECORE), National Cancer Research Institution, Curaçao Dolphin Therapy & Research Centre (CDTC), etc."

Every six months BGSU also sends an intern to the Coral Restoration Foundation in Curaçao to work on coral restoration efforts.

Partin has led numerous marine & aquatic biology field trips. The Curaçao trips follow over a dozen successful trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and to Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs Mississippi from 2000-2016.

Each of Partin’s field trips have been very successful and made a large impact on his students, most whom are now alumni. The study tours contributed to help these students become global citizens and they left the experience with a very positive impression of science, culture and most of all, the people with whom they interacted daily. Even greater outcomes are expected from this trip to Curaçao.