Students learn about tropical marine biology on Puerto Rico research trip

Biosciences students at Swansea University have had an extraordinary opportunity to conduct field work in tropical marine biology, during a recent visit to Puerto Rico, a US dependency in the Caribbean.

The students were at a University of Puerto Rico field station on Magueyes Island.   Marine species on the island include seahorses, manatees and eagle rays, and on land there is a large population of iguanas.

400 x 300Picture:  underwater survey of corals in Enrique Cay

See more pictures from the trip

The students, from marine biology, zoology and biology, had the option of applying to go on the trip as one of their course modules.  The first of its kind for students at Swansea, the course provides an insight into the ecology of tropical marine systems, equipping students with key practical skills required by tropical marine biologists.  It provides them with training in how to design, implement and report scientifically robust marine research.

In addition to classroom and laboratory facilities, the marine station has indoor and outdoor aquariums, tanks with running sea water, and three museums containing reference collections of fish, invertebrates, and algae.

‌Nicole Esteban, from the College of Science at Swansea University, who led the visit, said:

"The course gives students valuable skills in marine ecology, in-water marine sampling and surveys, and impact assessment.

We use Puerto Rico as it has all the tropical marine habitats close by: coral reefs, seagrass, mangrove keys, and coastal mangroves.

The field station is in a bay and therefore sheltered, and we are able to go outside the hurricane season.   

The students’ day started with breakfast at 6.30, with work beginning at 7.30. There were 2 hours in the water in the morning, and 2 hours in the afternoon, along with lab work and practicals. Plus of course there was some time off to relax and enjoy the amazing surroundings!"

 Students on Puerto Rico biosciences tripPicture:  students on their way to conduct a marine survey

Student feedback on the visit was extremely positive:

Holly Stokes: “The most amazing trip with some amazing people. Thank you so much for making the trip so worthwhile”

Dan Jones: “Absolutely incredible trip. Shout out to all the staff for making it possible. Biobay and the night snorkels were amazing”

Joel Brown: “Fantastic trip - best experience of Uni so far.  I certainly got the most out of the time available.  Be prepared to work hard, but it’s certainly a huge learning experience.”

Find out more about studying biosciences at Swansea