Turks & Caicos Islands

The SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies

Turks & Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands are home to vibrant coral reefs, dramatic sea walls, a deep ocean trench, mangrove forests, and extensive seagrass beds, which together sustain a stunning diversity of sea life. Spotted eagle rays, sharks, sea turtles, humpback whales, and dozens of fish species thrive among the sandy shoals, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and coral reefs surrounding the Islands.

These marine ecosystems are critical to the fisheries-driven local economy, but they are under enormous pressure from coastal development, a rising demand for seafood, and the impacts of climate change. Our research plays an important role in supporting island residents and government authorities as they work to balance economic need with the preservation of irreplaceable natural resources.

Programs

semester

Marine Resource Studies

Spend a semester on the island of South Caicos, where spectacular marine ecosystems are still largely untouched by tourism and development. Don your wetsuit and get to know a host of marine life while conducting research on coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves. Evaluate fisheries resources and policies while collecting data that helps community members balance their rights and needs with the island’s conservation goals.
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15 Weeks
16 Credits
Fall 2019

Sep 2 - Dec 11

Filling Fast

Spring 2020

Jan 27 - May 6

Open

Fall 2020

Aug 31 - Dec 11

Open

summer session I

Fundamentals of Marine Conservation

Explore the spectacular reefs and turquoise waters of South Caicos, snorkeling or diving with rays, turtles, brilliantly colored fish, and other marine life. In this fundamentals course, you’ll learn about the environmental issues and policies affecting these ecosystems and the island community, and gain the skills needed to conduct marine research.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2020

Jun 1 - Jul 1

Open

summer session II

Marine Megafauna

Spend your summer studying sharks, turtles, and rays in the waters surrounding the island of South Caicos. In this specialized course, you’ll learn about the ecology and conservation of these and other marine megafauna through in-water field lectures, snorkel or dive sessions, and video tracking exercises.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2020

Jul 6 - Aug 5

Open

Life In The Field

The Center is a small converted hotel overlooking the crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Spectacular sunsets, open-air facilities, warm sunshine, and a refreshing ocean breeze define this marine field station. A five-minute walk brings you to the small, historic town of Cockburn Harbour, where students and faculty frequently engage in community activities.

  • Dorm living in 4-6 person bunkrooms
  • Small, open campus with direct access to the ocean
  • Air-conditioned classroom and computer lab
  • Open-air dining space, and on-site cooking staff
  • Dock, dive shack, and small fleet of research boats
  • Volleyball, hammocks, and swimming pool overlooking the ocean
Click here to read stories from students, staff and faculty in the field

My choice to study abroad in the Turks and Caicos Islands has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I never thought I would have such incredible experiences doing research, but here the ocean is our lab and it’s truly surreal.

Kayla Anderson
University of Richmond

Research

Research at the SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies focuses on the health of marine habitats, natural resource conservation, and local livelihoods. Students and faculty engage with the local community as they explore the impacts of environmental threats, commercial fisheries, and increased tourism on the area ecosystems and the small island’s economy.

Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Climate change & ocean acidification
  • Tourism impacts
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass ecosystems
  • Marine protected areas

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In the Turks & Caicos Islands, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Community Resource Management
Tourism Impacts
Environmental Policy
Fisheries Management
Learn More About the Issues

Community

The Local Community

SFS is an active member of the Big South community and has been based here for nearly 30 years. Students experience the Caribbean culture and island lifestyle and participate in community activities including tutoring and mentoring local children, providing swim and snorkel lessons, demonstrating field research techniques to high schoolers, and playing sports with the locals. SFS research data is shared with the community, NGOs, and the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Meet Our Team

Franziska Elmer, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Tropical Marine Ecology
Meet Franziska

Ewa Krzyszczyk, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Principles of Resource Management
Meet Ewa

Courtney Pickett, M.P.A.

Resident Lecturer in Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values
Meet Courtney

Katrina Orthmann

Student Affairs Manager (SAM)
Meet Katrina

John DeBuysser

Dive Safety Officer (DSO)
Meet John

Clarence Stringer

Marine Operations Coordinator
Meet Clarence

Willy Bolivard

Assistant Site Manager
Meet Willy

Carmen Hoyt

Waterfront Assistant
Meet Carmen

Melissa Heres

Waterfront Assistant
Meet Melissa
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