Bahamas: Tropical Marine Biology & Shark Ecology
Explore the ecology of local sharks and the natural history of the Caribbean while discovering aspects of local culture and development.
This program is administered by the College of Food, Agricultural & Natural Resource Sciences' Office of International Programs. Applications are processed by the Learning Abroad Center.
Few dwellers of the deep incite as much curiosity as the shark. Where better to learn about the many shark species – as well as several marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, coral reefs, sandy and rocky intertidal zones, than at a biological field station on the island of South Bimini, The Bahamas, in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean? Much of your days will be spent in a swimsuit and a snorkel, underwater or on a beach, in the lab or on a boat. You will gain a basic understanding of the major habitats of tropical marine waters including seagrass meadows, rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs, and mangrove forests as well as the organisms which inhabit them such as sharks, fish, invertebrates, and algae. You will also gain a deeper understanding of the principles which underlie these relationships including zonation, competitive exclusion, origin of eukaryotes as well as how the settlement of The Bahamas, marine protected areas, and other policy issues affect these ecosystems. The days will be long and strenuous, but if you're interested in learning about marine science at the Bimini Biological Field Station and its "Sharklab", which is located on a relatively isolated and undeveloped West Indian island, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you.
Click here to see captioned photos from last year’s program!
Housing & Meals
Stay at the Bimini Biological Field Station which contains living quarters as well as a space for dining, and research laboratories. Meals are included.
March 1, 2022
In addition to the Learning Abroad Center application students must complete, you will need to send a short essay to Dr. Sorensen explaining why you are interested in participating in the program. The essay can be sent to: [email protected].
Depart from Minneapolis-Saint Paul: June 24, 2022
Arrive in the Bahamas: June 24, 2022
Depart from the Bahamas: July 1, 2022
These dates are tentative.
Earn 2 credits for CFAN 3502.
In this course, you will:
- learn all about sharks firsthand while gaining a basic understanding of tropical marine waters and the other organisms that inhabit them;
- gain an understanding of key policy issues that affect marine wildlife in another country.
Students with a strong interest in tropical marine biology and ecology will benefit from this experience, however, the program is open to learners from all disciplines.
- For complete information, see the course syllabus.
Peter Sorensen is a professor in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. His expertise is in fish physiology and behavior including migratory marine species. Dean Grubbs, the primary instructor, is a member of the research faculty at Florida State University. His expertise is in shark biology, fisheries science and natural history.
Observe and handle sharks while exploring coral reefs, mangroves and other tropical ecosystems on daily snorkel trips around Bahamian islands. You will also have a chance to observe dolphin pods, and learn to identify tropical flora and fauna while working directly with marine scientists.
The program fee generally includes tuition, group flight airfare from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bimini, airport transfers, in-country program-related transportation, housing, some meals, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, program administration, and international health insurance.
Billing & Payments
The application fee, deposit, and program fee are charged to the student's UMN account.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
All applicants are charged a $50 non-refundable application fee by the Learning Abroad Center. Students who confirm their participation in the program will have charged to their student account a $750 non-refundable deposit. Confirmed students who cancel their application before March 1 are responsible for the non-refundable deposit. Confirmed students who cancel their application on March 1 or later are responsible for the non-refundable deposit and any non-recoverable fees.
In the event that the CFANS Office of International Programs (OIP) is forced to cancel this program, accepted and confirmed students will receive a full refund of their application fee and deposit.
Students have the option to appeal the CFANS OIP cancelation policy when canceling from a program for extenuating circumstances. Refer to the Learning Abroad Center's refund appeal process for details.
Note: In the near future COVID vaccine requirements may be instituted by specific countries and/or airlines without advance notice. Vaccination gives you the best chance for participation in a program and will keep open the most travel options.
The inability to participate in a program because of local, national, or airline restrictions if you are not vaccinated but are eligible to be vaccinated will not be considered a valid reason for a refund.
Cost of Participation Forthcoming
Complete pre-application advising.
Due to COVID-19, current US passport processing times are significantly delayed. If you do not have a passport, or your passport expires less than 6 months after your return date from your time abroad, apply for a new passport now, and pay for expedited processing.
You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.
When you submit your online application, you will be assigned an application checklist that includes:
- First Step session
- University of Minnesota Student Release and Waiver Form
Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist.
Additional Required Application Materials
In addition to the Learning Abroad Center application, students must complete, you will need to send a short essay to Dr. Sorensen explaining why you are interested in participating in the program. The essay can be sent to: [email protected].
- You will receive an automated email message indicating your application was received.
- Follow the instructions on your application checklist to submit the Student Release and Waiver Form.
- Your application is not considered complete until the form has been received and you have completed the First Step module. Your completed application will be forwarded to the program leader in the sponsoring college/department for review.
- The program leader will notify the Learning Abroad Center of acceptance decisions. If accepted, you will be notified via email and assigned a confirmation checklist, which includes:
- Health Information Form
- Confirmation and Payment Agreement
- Online Health & Safety Orientation
- Login to the online application to review the confirmation checklist and submit the required items.
- Once you submit all items, your participation will be confirmed and your student account will be billed for the program deposit.
- If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application and submit a Cancel Request. You must also notify your program leader of your cancellation.