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Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles

Biology 361  Spring 2015

photo by Matthew Godfrey

A Sea Turtles Course with 5 days in Coastal North Carolina and 8 days in Costa Rica.

In cooperation with the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, UNCG offers you: BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION OF SEA TURTLES   Biology 361, a seminar and field studies course to be conducted on campus at UNCG, Topsail Island, NC, and the Phipps Biological Field Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica!


2015 Course Information

Interest meeting - anyone interested in applying or learning more about the course should attend

Fall 2012, October 5, 2012 at 2pm, Rm 349 Sullivan Science

Meeting will introduce you to the course and will last about 40 minutes.  This meeting is for students who are thinking about applying for the course.
Applications Due (see link below) applications accepted October 13 -  November 17, 2012 Submit application in person to A. Somers (office hrs. are MW 8:30-10am, Wed. 1-2:30pm in 310 Sullivan Science, also available by appointment)
Class meetings - scheduled time Spring semester 2015 TBD: Either Wed.& Friday 3:00-4:15p.m. or Wed. & Fri. 3:30-4:45pm Room T.B.D. Sullivan Science Building, UNCG Campus
Work/study at the Sea Turtle Hospital (both trips required) 1) a weekend early in the semester
2) TENTATIVE May 13-15, 2012
1) Indoor accommodations, Topsail Island, North Carolina
2) Camping at Topsail Island

Optional: 33rd International Sea Turtle Symposium, Baltimore, Maryland,

2-8 February 20153optional on your own
Costa Rica (required) August 3 August 10, 2015 Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Credit Hours:   3

Semester for which students will register and receive credit:  Spring 2015.  Students will receive an Incomplete (I) at the end of the term until we return from Costa Rica in August.  Special arrangements will be made for graduating seniors.

 Enrollment Limit:  10 Students

Interested Applicants:  Every applicant is expected to attend one of the two Interest Meetings (see date, time, and place in table above) to learn about the course and ask questions. Students in Vert Zoo or in Bio Club who heard my talk can attend an Interest Meeting or not. The regular class meeting time in Sp13 could change depending on the needs of the students.

Click here for an Application

Prerequisites: Biology  112 or permission of the instructor (Bio 105 (Conservation Section only) students may apply).

Course Description
Field Studies: The course will be centered around field work in Topsail Island, North Carolina and in Tortuguero, Costa Rica.  The sea turtle hospital at Topsail Island is on one of only a few facilities in the US dedicated entirely to sea turtles.  The mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick and injured sea turtles.  Students will assist in the care of the turtles and will learn more about the causes of decline in US waters.  Housing for winter trip will be announced later.  We will camp on the May trip.

In Costa Rica, students will participate in the oldest on-going sea turtle research program of its kind. Initiated by Dr. Archie Carr in the late 1950s, the tagging project is now coordinated by the Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC). Students will participate in all aspects of data collection on the  green turtles that come to nest on the beach at night. Students will need to be physically fit, as tagging the turtles may require five or more miles of walking each night in a tropical climate.

Housing will be at the STC's Tortuguero Biological Field Station. Tortuguero is a remote roadless area on the Caribbean coast, at the edge of a wet tropical rain forest that is criss-crossed by rivers and streams. Access is by boat or plane. The field station is located adjacent to the small village of Tortuguero and the 20,000-hectare Tortuguero National Park. Students will help measure nesting turtles, count eggs and assist in flipper tagging and recording data. In addition to working with the turtles, students will have the opportunity to meet the people of a Caribbean coastal community. On day trips organized by the field station, students will explore the rain forest of the National Park and other ecosystems of the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Classroom Studies:  Classroom studies constitute a very important part of the course.  These classes will involve lectures by faculty, students, and guest speakers.  There will be tests and papers.  This time is also used to prepare students for travel and field work.

Cost: The TENTATIVE price of the 2015 will be AROUND  $1900 plus air fare to San Jose, Costa Rica (~ $600 ??). The rate will include lodging at Topsail Island; overnight accommodations in San Jose for two nights (one upon arrival in San Jose at the beginning of the trip and one after leaving Tortuguero); transfer by bus and boat to Tortuguero and small plane back to San Jose; and three meals a day while at the station for six nights.  A deposit of  $250.00 is required with the application. The deposit is returned if applicant is not accepted.  Deadlines for fees: $250 upon application;  $200 in early spring (likely March 1st); AROUND remainder due by mid-April.  Airfare (around $600?? from Raleigh to San Jose) is separate and will be discussed at the first class meeting in January.

A travel agent will be handling the money for the Costa Rican portion of the course and the deposit and final payment will be due in early spring (date TBA).  Students may get together and travel elsewhere in Costa Rica on their own after the course work. This can be worked out with the travel agent.

Not included in cost: Transportation to Topsail Island and meals while at Topsail Island;  passport, airport exit tax in Costa Rica (about $27.00), tips (about $50.00), insurance, and items of a personal nature. Certain special field trips may be offered at a small additional cost.  You will also need money for meals in San Jose. Costs associated with the optional field trip to the International Sea Turtle Symposium are not included.

Language requirement:  There is no language requirement.

Cancellations and Refunds:  Requests for cancellations must be made in writing.  Full refund, less a $300 administrative fee, will be made if a timely cancellation request is received.   For late cancellations, refunds will be based on money recovered by the tour operator subject to the rules and regulations of the hotel and airlines involved.  Refunds will be made solely on residual values received from purveyors of services.

Ann Berry Somers 
Department of Biology 
310 Sullivan Science Building/UNCG 
P.O. Box 26170
Greensboro, N.C. 27412-6170
Tel: 336-334-4978 
e-mail: absomers at uncg dot edu

Office Hours: MW 8:30-10am, Wed. 1-2:30 p.m. Also by appointment.

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