Trinity juniors Jon Borr of Holland, Michigan, and Sam Huenink of Oostburg, Wisconsin, took their research way outside of the classroom in the Marine and Island Ecology of the Bahamas class, taught at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The course, which focuses on the flora and fauna of the Bahamas, is made available through Trinity’s membership in the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area (ACCA).
The class is divided into four groups, each of which designed their own specific research project. Students spent five Saturdays at the Shedd where they compiled background information on the plant and animal subjects of their research and received some “behind-the-scenes” experience. While studying at the Shedd, students spent time working with and handling some of the animals of the Bahamas, from jellyfish to iguanas.
The conclusion of the course allowed the students to complete their research through a week-long project in the Bahamas. Borr and Huenink spent the week touring the Exumas on the Coral Reef II observing fish in marine protected areas to understand the implications for the inhabiting fish, the focus of their research project. Stoplight Parrotfish, Yellowtail Snapper, Nassau Grouper, and the Caribbean species of sharks and sting rays were the species under observation.
“I really enjoy that you get to carry out the research project constructed in class in the field. Plus it’s in the Bahamas!” said Huenink.
After completing research both inside and outside of the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park, the students compared the fish of the protected waters with those in unprotected areas, testing their hypotheses.