Marine Biology Camps – Melissa’s Experience

Dear Sail Caribbean,

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to sail with you guys; I had the time of my life! I came to Sail Caribbean thinking three weeks of marine biology camp would feel like a really long time. To my surprise, three weeks felt like five days and I wish I had more time to spend with the amazing people that I met! I was amazed that kids from all around the world could have so much in common. There were people on the boat I do not think I would normally be friends with, but I learned that there is so much more to a person when you really get to know them. In addition, everyone on my boat agreed that this trip has really humbled us. Being cut off from technology and everyday life, made me appreciate everything so much more and allowed me to be independent from my parents and friends.

I came on this trip hoping to see if I wanted to pursue a marine biology career. Almost every counselor in our fleet had (some kind of) marine biology background and they were all happy to share their knowledge and experience with me. My mate, Kate, helped me conduct an in depth marine biology project, which was an amazing opportunity, especially since there is not a beautiful ocean anywhere near Chicago. That really gave me insight into what marine biology field work consists of.

This trip had the perfect mixture of education and fun. After a long, fun day of scuba diving and sailing, I could come back for a marine biology lesson and be able to apply that knowledge the next day.  One of the most memorable lessons was learning about bioluminescence and then hitting the water to see this magical phenomenon for myself. Upon returning to the boat, we all sat around the table with hot chocolate and shared our fascination for what we had just seen. It is also nice to know other kids with the same interest that I can stay in contact with.

Every day of the trip felt like a dream come true, filled with new adventures and memories. I will never forget the night we turned our boat into Hogwarts for the chili cook-off, or the night we whacked a piñata for Ashley’s birthday. This trip way exceeded my expectations with the amount of fun I had. I have already, and will continue to recommend Sail Caribbean and their marine biology programs to my friends. There is nothing better than being stranded out at sea with your best friends!

Thank you Sail Caribbean!

Melissa Pielet

Take a look at Sail Caribbean’s Marine Biology Camps for College Students – OCEAN College Marine Science, Sailing & Scuba


About the Author: Melissa Pielet is an 11th grader from Yorkville, IL.  Her     greatest passion is to travel and she is always looking for her next adventure!

Top 5 Marine Biology Schools & Colleges

SCTurtle0514Many young people join Sail Caribbean teen summer programs to get their feet wet, their hands dirty and to learn more about marine biology. They love it and want more. We’ve been asked quite a few times what are the top marine biology schools and colleges. It’s quite a difficult task to choose just a few top marine biology colleges, so we need to include the following disclaimer: At Sail Caribbean, we have worked with scientists and employed marine biologists from many different universities and programs – all of these people were incredibly dedicated and well educated. Here are some suggestions for schools to research and we hope this information starts you on a path to fulfilling your educations goals.

Top Five Marine Biology Colleges

  1. University of Miami has a well established marine science program now in its 65th year and offered through the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science with three different undergraduate degrees in marine studies. The Bachelor of Science degree combines marine science with biology, chemistry, geology, physics or computer science making it a double major. A Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs is the degree available for students interested in areas like economics, law, or economics applicable to marine affairs. There’s also a five-year combined Bachelor / Master of Arts in Marine Affairs. We’ve heard through the Sail Caribbean grapevine that undergraduates who are really involved have an amazing experience.
  2. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill This school’s Department of Marine Sciences offers instruction and performs biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography research. The department offers fundamental coursework, opportunities for practical experience with supervision, and academic minor to advanced undergraduates. It particularly emphasizes graduate training after a broad undergraduate foundation in the sciences including mathematics through calculus and statistics. At least some basic coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and geology is also needed. Introductory courses are also offered to all undergraduates who are interested in marine sciences regardless of their major.
  3. Massachusettes Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MIT/WHOI) offer a joint, five-year doctoral program in Oceanography/ Applied Ocean Science & Engineering. The Joint Program includes these five sub-disciplinary areas: Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Marine Geology and Geophysics, and Physical Oceanography. Each is overseen by a Joint Committee made up of MIT faculty and WHOI scientists. Joint Program students have access to courses, programs and resources at one of the top oceanographic research institutions in the world (WHOI), one of the top research universities in the world (MIT), and they have the opportunity to take courses at Harvard.
  4. Texas A&M  This Marine Biology Track offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. The track focuses on marine and coastal systems for students planning careers in fisheries and aquaculture, coastal and marine management and conservation, natural history of coastal and marine organisms, aquatic science, marine animal care and rehabilitation, and outdoor recreation and public education. Emphasis is on a well-rounded education and students are encouraged to become involved with scientific research while they also concentrate on their course work.
  5. University of Rhode Island  Between 80 and 100 students begin the  B.S. Marine Biology degree program every year. The curriculum is designed for students planning to pursue marine biology at a professional level or for those who want to use their capabilities a wide range of careers. The program allows students to explore the vast world of marine biology and provides a foundation in biological sciences, chemistry, math, physics and oceanography. Study in other marine-related areas like Aquaculture and Fisheries, Marine Affairs, Marine Environmental Economics, and Marine Archaeology, History and Literature is encouraged.

Remember…so much of your undergraduate experience in marine biology or any science is determined by the opportunities you take advantage of outside of the classroom. These might include volunteering in research labs, taking initiative and doing an undergraduate research thesis, and seeking out internships. While it’s important to choose a program with a good reputation and to keep your GPA high, it’s equally (if not more) important to find ways to get hands-on, practical experience outside of the classroom while still in school.

Here’s a great resource if you want to see more marine biology schools in the US.

Special thanks to Mallory Watson, Florida Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE Florida) Scientist and Shannon Keenon Pierson, former Head Marine Biologist for Sail Caribbean.

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