BU Today

Science & Tech

Saving the Salt Marsh

Marine bio students test the health of a Cape Cod estuary

On a sunny September morning on Cape Cod, a handful of students arrives at an estuary called Little Pond. They’ve brought buckets, rubber boots, fishing nets, and tools to measure the water flow and nutrients in the sediment. On their way to the water, the students pass a sign that reads “Save Little Pond.” Residents from the houses around the pond are worried that construction debris and septic-tank leakage from a proposed condo development could endanger the ecosystem. But does Little Pond need to be saved? That’s what the students are trying to find out.

The Boston University Marine Program (BUMP) students are taking a hands-on marine ecology course at Woods Hole, Mass. To decide if Little Pond can support an additional 165 condominiums on its shore, the students study the pond’s concentrations of minerals, algae, and shellfish and fish species, and measure its water flows.

BU Today joined Ivan Valiela, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of biology, and his class on a trip to the pond. Click on the slide show to hear about the course.