BUMP Marine Semester

Unique to Boston University, the Marine Semester offers a series of research-immersion courses in diverse areas of Marine Science. Offered every fall semester since 1985, and open to both BU students and visiting students from other institutions, the Marine Semester provides hands-on laboratory and field experience for both undergraduate and graduate students. Unlike the typical college semester, students enroll in only one course per month (selected from among 2-3 different offerings). Each block is typically 18-20 days and allows students the time for hands-on experiments and field work outside the classroom.  This format gives students the time they need to concentrate exclusively on one subject and complete their own research projects. Courses take place on-campus in our Marine Research Teaching Lab and off-campus at field sites in New England and Belize (Central America). BUMP’s Academic Partners play a major role in the Marine Semester. Every Marine Science major participates in at least one Marine Semester (typically in the junior and/or senior year).

Marine Semester Field Sites
In September and October, Marine Semester courses utilize field sites along the Massachusetts coastline, from Cape Ann in the north to Cape Cod in the south. Students study the physical evolution of the shoreline at Plum Island, part of the national Long Term Ecological Network.  They traverse the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary aboard the Auk, a 50-ft NOAA research vessel. They explore the ins and outs of the Boston waterfront, analyzing how urban development impacts marine ecology. And they travel the shoreline of Cape Cod, investigating how nutrient loading from human activity impacts the biogeochemistry of the marine environment.

In November and December, BUMP students head to Calabash Caye Field Station on Turneffe Atoll, Belize. This superb facility is part of the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute, an organization dedicated to the study and preservation of Belize’s tremendous natural resources.  Belize is a small English-speaking nation on the Caribbean coast of Central America. It is a stable democracy that has done an exemplary job of conserving its natural resources (e.g., the world’s only park specifically designed to protect jaguars) and historical legacy (e.g., the extensive Mayan ruins). In Belize, BUMP students spend ~12 days snorkeling along the world’s second longest barrier reef, where they conduct their own research on a range of topics, such as the behavior of reef fishes, the regeneration of a coral reef damaged by earthquake, or the diversity of marine invertebrates living on the submerged roots of mangrove trees.