Field Course USA: Florida Keys Shark Research
As a student in this training course you gather hands-on experience in a wide variety of field research skills and learn how to study and work with fascinating shark species while living aboard a research vessel exploring the Northern part of the Florida Keys.
During this seven-day educational course you deepen your knowledge about the ecology and biology of sharks living in the Florida Keys and apply your newly acquired theoretical skills in various practical units. You will learn how to capture different shark species of various sizes, how to collect morphological measurements and how to fish in different environments. At the end of the course you’ll be equipped with hands-on experience in working with a range of elasmobranch species. The research collected as part of the course contributes to a variety of ongoing conservation and research projects at our partner’s as well as universities in Florida and South Carolina.
- Experience a seven-day research adventure in the Florida Keys
- Actively contribute to marine conservation
- Broaden your knowledge about sharks
- Gather hands-on experience in working with different shark species
- Live and work on a modern research vessel
- Be part of an international team
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Daniel, your travel agent for USA
You would like to learn more about this trip? Don't hesitate to contact me! Our service doesn't end with your departure: I answer all of your questions and support you before, during and after your stay abroad.
Shark research in the Florida Keys
As a participant in this course you gather hands-on experience in working with different shark species and applying different research methods.
Arrival and orientation at the project site
After your arrival at Miami International Airport you need to get to one of the city’s marinas via Uber or public transportation where you will find our partner’s research vessel, your home and work place for the next few days. After your arrival you will be provided with lunch and introduced to the course programme. Afterwards you’ll receive a comprehensive safety briefing and learn how to work safely on a research vessel.
Course topics: Shark research in North America
For the following five days, course work starts after breakfast at around 8:30 am. Each day will be filled with a mix of theoretical and practical activities. During lectures you are taught essential knowledge about shark ecology and biology, field research skills and experimental design. Hands-on training includes in-depth instruction on shark handling and workup procedures as well as practicing numerous fishing methods such as longlining, gillnetting, and the use of drumlines.
Furthermore, you will learn how to fish in estuarine, inshore and offshore environments, how to safely restrain sharks of various sizes and species and how to apply techniques for minimizing shark capture stress. The mix of theoretical and practical lectures offers students the chance to become familiar with a wide breadth of different topics in the fields of shark ecology and biology, marine conservation and field research methods.
The course also includes an optional but highly recommended workshop on communicating with the public about the research you conduct. Especially for those who are studying animals that are dangerously misunderstood this is an issue of great importance.
Accommodation during the course in the United States
During this research course in Southern Florida you and other course participants are accommodated aboard a modern and well-equipped working research vessel, which will take you around the Northern part of the Florida Keys to dedicate yourself to different research and conservation activities. The boat provides seven student cabins as well as four heads (bathrooms), each with a hot water shower. Each student cabin can fit two participants. There are further shower facilities (but not laundry facilities, though) available ashore when the vessel is docked. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily.
In order to stay in touch with family and friends you should buy a US American SIM Card when arriving in the States. This way, you can make calls or send text messages. Depending on your calling plan you may also be able to use the internet.
Leisure time during your research course in the USA
As you and your group dedicate yourself to research activities for most of the day free time is quite limited. In the evening or after the vessel is docked there is usually some time for own activities, though.
Arrival in Florida
Shark research in Florida: Days in the course
Last day in the elasmobranch course and departure
“This project is great for people who want to dedicate themselves to taking care of animals’ well-being. The project works with utmost dedication; I could definitely feel the passion of owners and employees there.”
“...but who shares my love of animals (and is not afraid of big dogs), would like to spend some time in the US, work at a volunteer project and get to know a bunch of amazing people along the way: This is your project!”
“I was able to get to know a lot of New Zealand's breathtaking nature, even off the beaten track, and got the chance to have done something to protect the environment. I will certainly never forget my New Zealand experience.”
“During the 6 weeks I spent in KwaZulu Natal I finally found myself. From now on, this kind of project work and similar activities will be a part of my life.”
1. Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are located at the southern tip of the US state of Florida and consist of a chain of around 200 coral islands with a total length of almost 300 kilometres. The Keys are home to numerous extraordinary animal and plant species – many of which are not found in this form in any other region of America. Especially the colour and animal scenery of the underwater world amazes again and again: Under the water surface, the third largest tropical coral reef of the world stretches around the Florida Keys. As a participant in our advanced training adventure, you can experience this special region up close.
Background of the shark research in the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago of around 200 coral islands, located off the Southern tip of Florida. Their total length amounts to almost 300 km. The Keys are home to numerous distinctive animal and plant species, many of which cannot be found in any other region of the United States. The third largest coral barrier reef system in the world and the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States unfolds under the water’s surface around the Florida Keys. Especially divers experience a breathtaking scenario of different colours and animals – and by joining this educational adventure course you can discover this amazing underwater world, with a focus on shark species, as well.
Practice marine research and learn more about the ecology of the tropical waters in the Florida Keys
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