Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles – Biology 361 | Department of Biology

Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles – Biology 361

Next offered in Spring 2020; applications will be accepted in the Fall of 2019. Tentative schedule shown below. See Ms. Somers for details. (UNCG reserves the right to cancel or alter the program format, or to change costs due to conditions beyond its control.)

Spring 2020

A Sea Turtles Course with 5 days in Coastal North Carolina (2 trips), 2 days at UNCW/UNCG Ocean Advocacy Workshop, and 9 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, a program that consists of 2 courses. One, BIO 361, is a spring seminar and field studies course conducted on campus at UNCG and Topsail Island, NC. The other, GES 370, is held in Costa Rica at the Phipps Biological Field Station in Tortuguero, Costa Rica!

  1. Total 4 credit hours: BIO 361 Spring Session + GES 370 Summer Session II, plus
  2. Six days working at the Karen Beasely Sea Turtle Hospital in North Carolina
  3. Seven days in Costa Rica working in the oldest sea turtle research program of its kind to study in a remote roadless area surrounded by the tropical wet forest of Tortuguero National Park
  4. Exploring the grounds of the Selva Verde Lodge and rafting the class II, III waters of the Sarapiqui River (much fun!)

To read more about the program and to apply, click here.

2020 Course Schedule

Interest meeting: anyone interested in applying or learning more about the course should attend October 8, 2019 at 12:30-1:15 p.m., Location: 310 Eberhart Building
Oct. 9, 2019 at 3 p.m., Location: 310 Eberhart
Introduces the course and will last about 30 minutes. This meeting is for students who are thinking about applying for the course. Both meetings cover the same material.
Applications Due (see link below, also available outside 310 Sullivan Science Bldg) Applications accepted October 21 – Nov. 18, 2019 Submit application in person to A. Somers (office hrs. at bottom of page)
Class meetings – scheduled time Spring semester 2020 TBD: Possibly Friday 3:00-4:30 p.m. Location: T.B.D. Room in Sullivan Science Building, UNCG Campus
Work/study at the Sea Turtle Hospital (both trips required)

Ocean Advocacy Workshop UNCG/UNCW in Wilmington, NC

1. a weekend early in the spring 2020 semester

2. three full days between finals and the beginning of the first summer session

3. A weekend in March, TBD, lodging TBD

1. Indoor accommodations, Surf City, North Carolina

2. Camping at Surf City

Costa Rica (required) August 1-9, 2020 Tortuguero, Costa Rica


Credit Hours: 4: 
3 (BIO 361 Spring 2020) + 1 (GES 370 Second Session summer)
Enrollment Limit: 10-12 Students

Interested Applicants: Every applicant is expected to attend one of the two Interest Meetings to learn about the course and ask questions (see date, time, and place in table above). The regular class meeting time will be on Friday afternoons (time TBD).

Apply through UNCG Study Abroad: this is a faculty-led program.

Prerequisites: Biology 112 or permission of the instructor (Bio 105 (Somers’ section only) students may apply).

Course Description: Field Studies: The course will be centered around field work a the Karen Beasely Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Surf City, North Carolina and in Tortuguero, Costa Rica.

The sea turtle hospital 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 at the Guest House at the Sea Turtle Hospital. We will camp at Lanier’s Campground on the May trip.

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 only by boat or plane, we will be arriving and departing by boat. 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 the local village, a Caribbean coastal community. On day trips, students may 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 presentations by faculty, students, and guest speakers. There will be tests, reports and papers. This time is also used to prepare students for travel and field work.

Cost: The cost is UNKNOWN at this time. Expect that it will be AROUND $2100.00 (air fare to San Jose, Costa Rica not included). The price includes a $325 fee to International Programs on campus.

Students will seek grant funding from Green Fund for the Ocean Advocacy Workshop in Wilmington, NC, March 27-28, 2020.

For international travel, all meals and lodging including the following: overnight accommodations, dinner and breakfast in San Jose for first night; three meals a day while at the Phipps Biological Field Station for six nights; a one night stay at Selva Verde Lodge and an optional class II, III rafting trip on the Sarapaqui.

A deposit of $400.00 is due upon acceptance on December 15, 2019. See information on the Study Abroad Program page (note: this is a Faculty-Led program).

Not included in cost: Transportation to Surf City and meals; passport, airport exit tax in Costa Rica (about $27.00), tips (about $50.00), insurance, and personal items. Certain special field trips may be offered at a small additional cost.

Contact: Ann Somers
310 Sullivan Science Building
Phone: (336) 334-4978
Email: absomers@uncg.edu
Office Hours: M 1-2:30 p.m. in 310 Sullivan Building and T R 10-11:30 a.m. in 129 Graham Building
also by appointment