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About Marine Biology

We’re dedicated to keeping our program small so that we can dedicate attention to you

Begun in 2000, APU’s marine biology program provides our students with knowledge, skills and abilities to understand and scientifically manage oceans and their resources.

We remain distinct by enrolling small groups of students at the graduate and undergraduate level so that we may offer rigorous scientific training through innovative teaching. We’re committed to integrating research across the curriculum as we strive to become the Alaska-based program of choice for marine science professionals.

Our students learn to work cooperatively with each other, the marine biology faculty, and other professionals at all stages of the academic career through practical experiences in the field and laboratory.

We research and produce top-tier scientific publications as best methods to train undergraduates to become professionals in Alaska and throughout the world. Marine biology at APU supports sustainable management of Alaska’s living marine resources.

Our program thrives in a state with more coastline – 36,000 miles of it – than any other coastal state. Alaska’s unique features and challenges are central to APU’s project-based learning, where field-intensive courses challenge our students to think critically.

Marine Biology Program faculty and staff

Leslie Cornick, Ph.D., Marine Physiology Ecology Lab
Brad Harris, Ph.D., Applied Fisheries Science Lab
David Scheel, Ph.D., Benthic Behavioral Ecology Lab
Robin Bartlett, administrative assistant, marine biology program
Scott Anderson, dive safety officer

Why Scientific Diving?

SCUBA diving is an important tool for marine biologists, and scientists working as divers rely on their underwater skills for both safety and to conduct their studies.  Enroll in the APU dive program courses to become a professional scientific diver meeting the American Academy of Underwater Sciences ( national standards for diving scientists.

Introduction to Scientific Diving

IMG2_1009This course introduces the student to the equipment, procedures, and skill set to become a certified diver. We’ll start out in the classroom with some lectures and knowledge development sessions, then progress into the swimming pool for hands on practice. Typically, we’ll conduct about 8 class sessions, and 8 pool sessions which take place over an 8 week period. Once the pool and classroom work are completed, we’ll head down to Whittier for our open water dives. This takes place over two weekends, and includes approximately 8 dives. Successful students will be certified divers upon completion of this course. Although this is great fun, and anyone is invited to join us, we encourage students to consider this as the first of four scuba courses which will result in “scientific diver” certification, and ultimately lead to employment opportunities in the field of diving for science.

Scientific Diver in Training, Level I

IMG_0983Level I training is the advanced diver certification, but with extra emphasis on incorporating small hand tools into the dives. Buoyancy control, dry suit skills, and enhanced diver awareness are emphasized, as well as gas-planning and additional diving environments. By now, confidence is growing, and you’re becoming a real team player. Surface marker buoys, line spools, reels, and collection bags are incorporated into the dives to build proficiency.

Scientific Diver in Training, Level II

Split lvl boarding1Level II training focuses on diver safety, and rescue techniques. You’ll learn to recognize signs of stress in yourself, your buddy, and what to do about it. CPR, first aid,  and oxygen provider certifications are all included in this training. Often, scientific divers are operating at remote locations without a lot of support, and must be capable of preventing accidents as well as responding to them in an appropriate manner. This course will train you to be a first responder to a diving accident, and take charge of the situation.

Scientific Diver

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis is what it’s all been leading up to! We’ll spend two weeks making preparations for a scientific diving expedition! You’ll gain experience in  planning logistics, dive plans, equipment, food, transportation, and every other aspect of remote field work. Once we’re prepared, we’ll venture out for a week-long dive trip in Alaskan waters! We’ll camp, dive, and conduct field studies underwater! Invertebrate surveys, rock fish counts, photography, videography, octopus observations, wolf eel habitat studies, you name it! Upon the conclusion of this course you will be qualified to dive for a living with government agencies, research facilities, as part of a marine biology career, or get a job with your local aquarium and become part of the display for visitors!