Marine Ecosystems

Marine Ecosystems
Dates: 4/5-5/24
Tuesdays 1-2pm Ages 10-12
Tuition: $80 Drop ins $15 per class

This course is designed to give an overview of the different marine ecosystems. The ecosystem an animal lives in shapes the type of things that animal is able to do. Why would clownfish live in an anemone? Why is the Galapagos Marine Iguana considered a marine reptile while it lives on the land? Each ecosystem is unique and we will explore as many as possible from coral reefs to abyssal plains and continental slopes.


About the instructor:
Michael Vondras is a local educator recently graduated with a degree in Marine Biology.  His coursework at the University of Rhode Island included Marine Environmental Physiology, Evolution and Diversity of Fishes and Ecology and Deep-Sea Biology.  However, he is most passionate about Bioluminescence!

There will be a short assignment after each class that will be due at the beginning of class the next day. These assignments may range from review of a scientific paper to analysis of an organism. These assignments are designed to be interesting and enjoyable. Assignments will not be “graded”, but will be returned with feedback. Assignments will not be back breaking and will normally not require more than a page. Either typed or handwritten submissions will be accepted.

There will be short one slide quizzes at the beginning of class that will include 1-3 questions from the previous week. These will not be submitted but will be answered as a class. This is only an 8 week course therefore will not have any tests.

Classroom Policy:
During class there will be discussions. However, they must stay on topic. I do not anticipate any issues. Most importantly, treat everyone in the class with respect and we will not have any problems.


Week 1: Overview of the Basic Marine Ecosystems
This week has the intention of explaining all the different types of Marine Ecosystems that will be talked about during the course of the class. Giving a general overview of the animals that live in each ecosystem and the conditions they have to deal with

Week 2: Life in the intertidal zone
When you go to the beach, you are in the intertidal zone. Areas that are defined by the changing of the tides. You’re a green algae. One minute you are submerged in water and happy as a clam, the next the tide goes out and you are exposed to the air. How do you adapt to survive out of water for periods of time?

Week 3: Life on the continental slope
If you walk off the beach and into the water, put on an oxygen mask (with unlimited oxygen) and weigh down your feet, and keep walking. You are now on the continental slope. The area between the intertidal zone and abyssal plain. The further you walk out, the deeper into the water you go until you reach the base of the ocean.

Week 4 and 5: Life on the coral reef
Depending on where you started your journey, as you walk down the continental slope, you may stumble upon underwater rainforests of diversity. Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on earth. These beautiful but fragile ecosystems are home to every type of marine animal you can think of.

Week 6 and 7: Life in the dark
Now you continue walking past the coral reef down the continental slope, you eventually will reach the abyssal plain. This area is the deep-sea. Where no light can reach. This area is defined by darkness. No light, but tons of life. In this class we will talk about the deep sea and the organisms that live there.

Week 8: Life on Underwater Mountains
If you walk across the abyssal plain, eventually you may come to what looks like an underwater Mount Everest. Enormous seamounts are hotspots for biodiversity. These areas are prime fishing spots for anglers and prime spots for all sorts of ocean life. Now walk up the mountain until you reach the top. Luckily for you, this seamount breaches the top of the ocean and just happens to be an isle of Hawaii.