Dauphin Island Sea Lab offers UNA student hands-on marine biology experience

by Staff Writer Anna Brown

For marine biology students, inland studying may lead to offshore application.

Students have the opportunity to study on the Gulf of Mexico this summer at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

The sea lab offers both graduate and undergraduate level classes to students.

Undergraduate classes are offered during the summer months, said Dauphin Island Sea Lab Chair of the University Programs Ken Heck.

“If you’re all about being on the beach for a month, go take a class there,” said senior marine biology major Hailey Boeck. “It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll learn a lot.”

Boeck said she came to UNA for the marine biology and honors programs.

“What we can provide for people is the hands-on experience,” Heck said. “You can sit on campus, and you can find all kinds of beautiful things on the Internet and look at them. What we can do is put people out in water and let them see these animals up close and personal.”

The sea lab is designed to serve all the colleges and universities in the state, he said.

“It was set up that way on purpose to avoid having every university with a marine lab in a state that has a small coastline,” he said.

The sea lab offers three sessions for students to attend during summer. The first is a two-week May session. Next are two five-week sessions beginning in June and ending in early August, according to the Sea Lab’s website.

Heck said the courses offered at the sea lab range from geology to general marine invertebrate classes.

“You can come away with a really broad knowledge by the time you finish these classes,” he said. “What I think we can do in one or two summers is teach them an awful lot about how the Gulf of Mexico and the animals in it work together.”

All marine biology majors at UNA are required to take at least 4 hours of credit at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, according to the university course catalog.

“This is great because many universities in the Southeast make their students go to Dauphin Island, or a sea lab like it, so we all are getting the same education,” Boeck said.

The chance to study at the sea lab is not restricted to marine biology majors. Any student can study at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and receive credit.

Any non-marine biology students who study at the lab will receive elective credit for the classes they take at the sea lab, Heck said.

The deadline for priority registration was Feb. 14, 2015. The sea lab will accept applications until the first day of classes, May 18, according to its website.