Center for Conservation of Marine Megafauna

Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals of the Adriatic

Croatia
Semester
15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2024
Sep 2 - Dec 11
Filling Fast
Spring 2025
Feb 3 - May 13
Open
Program Costs
  • Tuition$22,250
  • Room & Board$7,250
  • Total$29,500
Application Deadlines
Fall 2024
May 1, 2024
Spring 2025
November 1, 2024
Semester Program

Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals of the Adriatic

Veli Lošinj,
Croatia

Hosting rich biodiversity, diverse habitat types and cultural heritage sites, yet exposed to numerous human uses, the Croatian coast, islands, and sea are important from a Mediterranean perspective. This region is a great “natural laboratory” for studying and tackling the two interrelated conservation challenges of this age – biodiversity loss and climate change. Through lectures, seminars, group work in the field and in the lab, study visits, and community engagement, you will learn about challenges and opportunities to reconcile marine megafauna conservation with socio-economic demands and local traditions. You will explore dolphin and turtle conservation challenges, and their linkages to small island communities, large scale tourism, coastal and open sea habitats, local and industrial-scale fisheries, and other community and economic contexts. Thus, the knowledge and experience gained here is broadly applicable to other regions and contexts.

Program highlights:

  • Join the Adriatic Dolphin Project, one of the longest running dolphin research projects in the world, on the water to study bottlenose dolphin populations and conservation
  • Work alongside animal care and rehabilitation experts at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center, gaining hands-on experience with husbandry and veterinary skills
  • Visit the Brijuni National Park to learn about the challenges of balancing conservation management with growing tourism
  • Trek through ancient olive groves on the islands of Cres and Lošinj, while learning about endemic Mediterranean flora and their traditional uses
  • Conduct a comprehensive field research project: Develop a research question, collect, and analyze data, write a paper, and present your findings.

Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a five-day/week schedule. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of balancing conservation with social and economic issues.

Major academic themes include:

  • Cetacean and sea turtle biology and ecology
  • Cetacean and sea turtle research and conservation methods
  • Regional conservation strategies and spatial planning
  • Protected areas and threatened ecosystems
  • Nature based solutions to biodiversity loss and climate change impacts
  • Systematic conservation planning and decision making

Courses

You will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit language and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. These are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, seminars, group work in the field and in the lab, assignments, tests, and research. All classes are taught in English.

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to view a description and download the syllabus.
SFS 4910
Directed Research – Croatia
4 credits
SFS 4910

Directed Research – Croatia

4 credits

This course prepares students to distinguish hidden assumptions in scientific approaches and separate facts from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. Students learn specific tools including experimental design, field techniques, basic descriptive statistics, and parametric and non-parametric quantitative analysis. Emphasis is placed on succinct scientific writing, graphic and tabular presentation of results, and effective delivery of oral presentations.

Syllabus coming soon!

View Syllabus
SFS 2041
Croatian Language and Culture
2 credits
SFS 2041

Croatian Language and Culture

2 credits

The Language and Culture course consists of Croatian society, history, and language. There will be an introduction to spoken Croatian and an exploration of local history and culture. While the primary focus is on Croatia, Adriatic regional history is also covered due to shared politics and culture.

The Croatian language unit focuses on beginner-level listening and spoken language practice to improve communication and comprehension skills in everyday situations. Both units emphasize interaction with local communities through lectures, field visits, cultural events, and community outreach. Students engage in activities like workshops with local students, community events, and service projects.

Syllabus coming soon!

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SFS 3754
Rescue and Rehabilitation: Marine Animals
4 credits
SFS 3754

Rescue and Rehabilitation: Marine Animals

4 credits

This course focuses on the assessment of the health status of cetaceans and sea turtles as keystone species of the marine ecosystem. Fieldwork includes emergency interventions for rescuing and providing care of stranded, injured, or entangled dolphins and sea turtles. At our sea turtle rescue center, rehabilitation of sea turtles happens through the application of a therapeutic protocol established after a clinical evaluation of the individual through diagnostic tests. After taking samples, such as swabs and blood samples, turtles undergo therapy which includes treatment of injuries and/or medication administration. Students will experience the daily care requirements for the animals, monitoring their health status and recovery process. During recovery, various samples are taken for scientific research. Where recovery occurs, the individuals are tagged with flipper tags and may be satellite or GSM tagged for further tracking. In the case of dead strandings, post-mortem investigations are undertaken to assess potential causes of death.

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SFS 3024
Marine Conservation Planning
4 credits
SFS 3024

Marine Conservation Planning

4 credits

This course focuses on the techniques of integrating systematic conservation planning into a broader transboundary marine spatial plan placing local, national, and regional conservation efforts within the global context. We examine the means of mainstreaming marine conservation and marine protected areas into the broader blue economy. The Adriatic Sea is subject to numerous threats from anthropogenic use, particularly the 21st century threats of marine litter and noise pollution. Fisheries, transportation, energy, and tourism are all sectors that intersect with the conservation of regional species of concern. Students will investigate means to understand these conflict points for effective conservation within Croatia and the Adriatic. The aim of this course is to understand the critical viewpoints of relevant authorities and stakeholders and balancing the increasing demands of the blue economy with conservation requirements.

Syllabus coming soon!

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SFS 3722
Marine Megafauna Ecology
4 credits
SFS 3722

Marine Megafauna Ecology

4 credits

This course provides theoretical and practical knowledge and skills needed to undertake research and monitoring of marine megafauna species of conservation concern. Working with cetaceans and sea turtles as keystone species, all aspects of the process are covered, including the knowledge on their biology, ecology and threats, design of monitoring protocols and advanced methodologies, data handling and analysis, and interpretation of results and communication. Students gain experience in boat-based data collection (GPS tracking, photo-identification, tissue collection, theodolite, aerial surveys, UAVs, tagging), but also on independent lab work where students, under supervision, learn basic and advanced data handling and analysis techniques and software (MS Excel, R, GIS, mark-recapture, SOCPROG).

Syllabus coming soon!

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Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: biodiversity assessments, population monitoring, animal behavior observation, GIS and mapping, biodiversity survey techniques, tag/recapture techniques, photoidentification, species management planning, research design and implementation, quantitative/qualitative data collection and analysis, scientific writing and communication, sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and husbandry techniques.

Field Sites

Based on the island of Lošinj, you will visit numerous different island ecosystems of the northern Dalmatian coast. Most of the fieldwork will be boat-based. SCUBA certification is not offered through this program.


Other Croatia Programs

Semester

Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals of the Adriatic

15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2024
Sep 2 - Dec 11
Filling Fast
Spring 2025
Feb 3 - May 13
Open

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$22,250
  • Room & Board$7,250
  • Total$29,500

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