FLORIDA KEYS FIELD COURSE


LENGTH: 1 Day Extended; 3 Days/2 Nights; 4 Days/3 Nights and 5 Days/4 Nights.

Note: Longer Field Courses available upon request.

FIXED DEPARTURE DATES: Dates available upon request. Please contact Rainforest and Reef by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

Sep 1-May 31: We recommend that you ask for your Field Course dates 1 year in advance. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for available dates by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

Jun 1-Aug 31: Please contact Rainforest and Reef for available dates by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

*Our standard FLORIDA KEYS FIELD COURSE itinerary can be modified in content and length for SPECIAL INTERESTS and NEEDS.

*An affordable extension to the FLORIDA EVERGLADES before or after our FLORIDA KEYS FIELD COURSE available upon request.

*Please ask about our INTRODUCTION to COASTAL MARINE ECOLOGY of the FLORIDA KEYS EDUCATOR WORKSHOP during the summer of 2007.

*INTERSHIPS are available at our Florida Keys Field Course site. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for details by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

FIELD COURSE COSTS:

1 Day Extended: Contact Rainforest and Reef

3 Days/2 Nights: Contact Rainforest and Reef

4 Days/3 Nights: Contact Rainforest and Reef

5 Days/4 Nights: Contact Rainforest and Reef

All costs are based a minimum of 9 full-paying participants. One Group Leader FREE for the ground portion of our FLORIDA KEYS FIELD COURSE with 9 full-paying participants.

Notes:

Group Leaders, please contact Rainforest and Reef for details about STIPENDS, FREE SPACES and GROUP RATES.

For individuals, families or groups smaller than 9 full-paying participants please contact Rainforest and Reef for pricing by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

Includes: All INSTRUCTION and GUIDE SERVICES; all MEALS and LODGING as stated in the itinerary; all GROUND and WATER TRANSPORTATION following your arrival on Key Largo, Florida; all ENTRANCE FEES to NATIONAL PARKS and OTHER SITES.

Does Not Include: ROUND-TRIP AIRFARE to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; ROUND-TRIP GROUND TRANSFERS Miami-Key Largo-Miami or Ft. Lauderdale-Miami-Ft. Lauderdale; GRATUITIES and PERSONAL ITEMS.

BACKGROUND:

Our Florida Keys Field Course is hosted by the Marine Resources Development Foundation (MarineLab) located on Key Largo, Florida. MarineLab is surrounded by the protected marine environments of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Everglades National Park, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This site offers easy access to seagrass and mangrove ecosystems, as well as the only bank coral reef off the continental United States. Through hands on investigation, preceded by Marine Biologist-led discussions focusing on the ecology and biology of these unique communities, Students and Educators alike will learn while having fun and adventure. With air conditioned dorms, classrooms, cafeteria and well equipped fleet of 6 Twin Vee boats, MarineLab offers a completely self-contained experience for groups of all ages. MarineLab is located within two hours of Miami or Ft Lauderdale International Airports. Snorkeling in a variety of marine ecosystems, plus interactive discussions with experienced Marine Biologists, will reinforce science concepts introduced in students' home classrooms. Groups typically spend 1-6 days learning about the various marine habitats off of Key Largo. Over 20,000 participants, ranging in age from 8 to 80 and from the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Far East have participated in MarineLab programs since 1985. Participants will experience ecological concepts, as they relate to Marine Biology, and observe marine flora and fauna in their natural habitats. Group leaders can schedule one of our standard programs (outlined below) or customize, with our assistance, their own itinerary. SCUBA can also be included as part of your program. The level of instruction for any Field Course varies, depending on the age and educational background of each group. We have a Core Curriculum (outlined below), consisting of seagrass, mangrove and coral reef ecology which is the basis for each of our Florida Keys Field Courses. Longer itineraries add hard-bottom and coralline algal ecology and have more reef trips included. A trip to and study of the natural history and hydrology of the Florida Everglades may also be included. Our daily schedule consists of snorkeling field trips during the day, followed by labs and presentations during the evening.

CORE CURRICULUM:

Our core curriculum consists of seagrass, mangrove and coral reef ecology field trips. Evening discussions on coral reef ecology, field identification of reef fish, invertebrate diversity, astronomy and marine plankton are also included. An introduction to the geology of the Florida Keys is also included in our Florida Keys Field Course.

Coral Reef Ecology: The coral reef tract, extensively developed off of Key Largo key, has been compared to a tropical rainforest, because of its’ high biodiversity, fragility and susceptibility to human impacts, as well as its commercial importance, if properly managed and conserved. During an introductory lecture, participants will learn about: coral reef habitat; organisms that live here; coral reef growth, distribution; behavior and structural adaptations of reef organisms; mutualism present on the reef; coral reproduction and the importance of the mangrove and seagrass habitats to the reef ecosystem. Participants will snorkel a variety of reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which each Field Course including at least two trips out to the reef.

Field Identification of Reef Fish: Participants will be introduced to reef fish through slide presentations/discussions. Here, they will learn to identify reef fish by using field marks, including shape, color, patterns, as well as habitat and behavioral characterstics. After participants are introduced to fish biology and taxonomy, they will be taken to a variety of reef locations in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to snorkel and practice their identification skills.

Seagrass Ecology: Seagrass beds are a commercially crucial habitat where spiny lobster, stone crabs, and bait-fish abound. Participants learn about: grassbeds as habitat; characteristics of the three local species of seagrass; distinguishing characteristics between algae and seagrass; the role of seagrass plays in coral reef ecology; seagrass distribution and threats to local seagrass communities.

Mangrove Ecology: Mangroves are a biologically rich and create a crucial transition zone between the land and sea. Participants will learn about: characteristics of local mangrove species; roles mangroves play as habitat for a variety of species of marine life; mangrove distribution and their role in the marine food web. A favorite mangrove site off of Key Largo is the Grotto.

Invertebrate Diversity Lab: We will introduce marine invertebrates with a discussion that will include identification and diversity, as it relates to stability and health. Rocks will be collected from the beach and brought into the lab, where participants will "shake" them into seawater and collect resident invertebrates. They will then be identified and their taxonomy discussed.

Astronomy/Plankton Tow: Participants will be taken on a night-time boat ride just outside the MarineLab harbor. There, away from the light pollution of the shore, important constellations will be observed, as participants discuss the moon's effect on tides; the plane of the ecliptic; celestial navigation and other important astronomical facts. On the way back into the harbor, a plankton net will be deployed behind the boat. We will then bring the collected samples back into the lab, place the in deep-well slides and learn to identify various species and taxonomic characteristics of local marine plankton.

Other Field Trips: Field trips Rodriguez Key, the backcountry of Florida Bay, hard-bottom shoal areas and to the Florida Everglades National Park are also available for longer programs.

WATER SAFETY and SNORKELING:

Participants do not need to know how to snorkel or even swim prior to their arrival. We will carefully orient each participant to the water and use of snorkeling equipment in every Florida Keys Field Course. The first thing our Instructors/Guides do with any participant is administer a "swim test". This "test" merely demonstrates your comfort level in the water. If a participant appears uncomfortable at all, Instructor/Guides will pay special attention to you while in the water. Non-swimming participants are provided with extra buoyancy and extra supervision. MarineLab Staff specializes in encouraging unsure swimmers, through patience and care, to become reasonably confident snorkelers. After your "swim test", participants are shown the proper technique for fitting their snorkel gear. They are instructed to use the "HHH" snorkeling position: head, hind-end, and heels at the water line to avoid touching live coral you will observe in the field. Orally inflatable snorkel vests are worn by participants at all times while snorkeling. These vests provide extra buoyancy if desired by the individual and are brightly colored to aid visual tracking of our snorkelers. We have a wide variety of fins and masks in stock to fit all snorkelers. The buddy system is used in all of our Florida Keys Field Courses. A novice or apprehensive snorkeler is usually paired with a more experienced buddy or with a Guide/Instructor. Buddy pairs are instructed to stay within arms' length of each other and within 100 feet of our boats. Field Course Staff is very experienced with instructing participants in the water. They are all “Lifeguard Certified” and most also have years of experience in the water, with boats and people in aquatic situations. During your training you will also be instructed about hand signals, use of a dive flag and snorkeling etiquette.

SCUBA PROGRAMS:

For older students, we can offer the option of SCUBA diving in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during their Florida Keys Field Course. The basic core curriculum is included, along with a visit to Jules Undersea Lodge and the MarineLab Habitat. Except for our SCUBA certification course, we can customize each SCUBA program to meet your group’s needs. For students who are already certified, we can provide a complete marine ecology program with SCUBA diving instead of snorkeling. Please contact Rainforest and Reef for details by e-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org or call toll-free: 1.877.255.3721.

SAMPLE ITINERARIES:

MEAL CODES: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner

Note: On the MEDICAL INFORMATION FORM that you will be receiving shortly after registration, please make us aware of any special meal requests and/or dietary restrictions….vegetarian, etc., that you or members of your group may have. We will be pleased to fulfill your requests/needs.

1 Day Extended:

DAY 1 8:30 AM Arrival and orientation. 9:00 AM Swim test and gear orientation. 10:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Seagrass/Mangrove Ecology. 12:30 PM Lunch. 1:30 PM DISCUSSION: Coral Reef Ecology. 2:30 PM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:15 PM LAB: Invertebrate Diversity. 8:30 PM FIELD TRIP: Astronomy/Plankton Tow. 9:45 PM Departure. L D

3 Days/2 Nights:

DAY 1 1:00 PM Arrival and orientation. 2:00 PM Swim test and gear orientation. 3:00 PM DISCUSSION: Seagrass Ecology. 4:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Seagrass Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM LAB: Invertebrate Diversity. 8:45 PM DISCUSSION: Coral Reef Ecology. Overnight. D

DAY 2 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #1. 12:30 PM Lunch. 2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Mangrove Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM DISCUSSION: Field Identification of Reef Fish. 8:45 PM FIELD TRIP: Astronomy/Plankton Tow. Overnight. B L D

DAY 3 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #2. 12:00 PM Departure. B

4 Days/3 Nights:

DAY 1 2:00 PM Arrival and orientation. 3:00 PM Swim test and gear orientation. 4:00 PM Lagoon Snorkel. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM LAB: Invertebrate Diversity. 8:45 PM DISCUSSION: Seagrass Ecology. Overnight. D

DAY 2 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Seagrass Ecology. 11:00 AM DISCUSSION: Coral Reef Ecology. 12:30 PM Lunch.
2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #1. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM Sea Turtle Stranding Activity. 8:45 PM FIELD TRIP: Astronomy/Plankton Tow. Overnight. B L D

DAY 3 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Rodriguez Key Reef Zonation. 12:30 PM Lunch. 2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Mangrove Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM DISCUSSION: Field Identification of Reef Fish. LAB: Sponge Spicule Identification. Overnight. B L D

DAY 4 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #2. 12:30 PM Lunch. Departure. B L

5 Days/4 Nights:

DAY 1 2:00 PM Arrival and orientation. 3:00 PM Swim test and gear orientation. 4:00 PM Lagoon Snorkel. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM DISCUSSION: Florida Keys Habitats. 8:45 PM LAB: Cassiopeia Culture. Overnight. D

DAY 2 8:00 AM Breakfast. 9:00 AM DISCUSSION: Seagrass Ecology. 10:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Seagrass Ecology. 12:30 PM Lunch. 2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Mangrove Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM DISCUSSION: Coral Reef Ecology. 8:45 PM LAB: Invertebrate Diversity. Overnight. B L D

DAY 3 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #1. 2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Hard-bottom Shoal Ecology. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM DISCUSSION: Field Identification of Reef Fish. LAB: Sponge Spicule Identification. Overnight. B L D

DAY 4 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #2. 2:00 PM FIELD TRIP: Rodriguez Key Reef Zonation. 6:30 PM Dinner. 7:30 PM Summary. FIELD TRIP: Astronomy/Plankton Tow. Overnight. B L D

DAY 5 9:00 AM FIELD TRIP: Coral Reef Ecology #3. 12:30 PM Lunch. Departure. B L

Note: Due to weather conditions and circumstances beyond the control of Field Course Staff, certain activities may be changed or done on different days in the best interest of the group for each of the itineraries outlined above.

 
 


Rainforest and Reef

"Outstanding-Affordable Field Courses in Rainforest & Marine Ecology"

P.O. Box 141543
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49514-1543 USA
Local/International Phone: 001.616.604.0546
Toll Free: 1.877.255.3721
Skype: travelwithrandr
MS IM: travelwithrandr@hotmail.com
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E-mail: info@rainforestandreef.org


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