Oceanography Micronesia: Coastal Ecosystems of Micronesia in a Changing Climate

This UW Exploration seminar is pre-approved for the ‘Integrative Field Experience’ requirement of the Marine Biology major and the ‘Integrative Experience’ requirement of the Marine Biology minor.

Application Deadline: 2/15/2020
Program dates: 9/1/2020 – 9/21/2020

Micronesia Study Abroad Flyer

Program Description

Kosrae is the eastern-most island in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the expansive Caroline Island chain of the western tropical North Pacific Ocean. It is unique among Micronesian Islands in that it is a solitary island surrounded by a coral reef rather than being amongst a group of small islands. Also unlike much of the FSM and the neighboring Marshall and Gilbert Islands, Kosrae is essentially pristine. With a population of just over 7,000 people, very little in the way of tourism or industry, and a strong sense of conservation, most of its 42 square miles of lush mountainous terrain remains undisturbed and stunningly beautiful. Coupled with the fact that the steep mountain terrain and dense vegetation that characterize most of the island act as a barrier to development, Kosrae remains what one prominent travel website describes as “a sleepy backwater paradise for active travelers who enjoy tramping through rainforests, paddling through mangroves, or snorkeling coral reefs”. At the same time, the people of Kosrae are gracious and hospitable, while remaining closely connected to their cultural heritage and traditions.

In this field-based class, students will apply basic principles of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology to develop an understanding of the coral, mangrove, and seagrass ecosystems surrounding Kosrae, and the threats to these ecosystems from coastal development and climate change. Kosrae’s coral reef and mangrove ecosystems are among the healthiest and most magnificent on the planet and students will learn about the conservation efforts underway to ensure they remain intact. A study of Kosraean culture is central to understanding how the island’s natural resources are being preserved, and a wide variety of cultural activities will be woven into the course involving food, crafts, music, and the Liberation Day festivities, a week-long celebration of the liberation from Japanese rule after World War II. Throughout the field components of the course, we will conduct a number of rapid ecological assessments of impacted and pristine coral, mangrove and seagrass systems that will be shared with organizations involved in local conservation efforts. We have longstanding relationships with these organizations going back to 2009, including the Kosrae Island Resource Management Agency (KIRMA), the government agency responsible for the local environment and natural resources, and Kosrae Conservation and Safety Organization (KCSO), a local NGO.

Full program details and application (deadline 2/15/20)