Field Studies by Water

These activities offer hands-on learning on University of Georgia vessels.


All boat activities are weather-dependent and require appropriate and adequate footwear, clothing and preparation for students and chaperones. UGA boat captains reserve the right to cancel these field studies in the event of unsafe weather conditions or inadequate group preparation. If field studies are cancelled, land-based activities will be substituted.

To schedule a visit, contact Scheduling Coordinator Stephanie Edgecombe at
or call 912-598-2335.

Barrier Island Study (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Travel by boat to a wild and remote barrier island. Bottlenose dolphins, sea birds and bald eagle nests are often seen along the way. An exploratory cross-island hike provides a study of the dynamic ecological, physical and biological processes at work in this unique ecosystem. Study plant succession from pioneering dune grasses to the mature maritime forest. Beach combing provides marine specimens for students to examine.

This class supports River of Words program coordinated by Georgia Project WET and the Georgia Center for the Book.

7 hours; min/max = 15/28 (students + chaperones)

Estuary Trawl (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Climb aboard the 43-foot trawler R/V Sea Dawg for a memorable scientific collecting trip. Students sample the benthic communities found in tidal rivers and sounds, then identify, sort, count and record species, environmental and positional data. Discussions include the natural history, diversity and ecological/commercial significance of findings. This class emphasizes STEM objectives.

2.5 hours; min/max = 15/20 (students + chaperones)

Scientific Sampling Cruise (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Looking for a unique scientific investigation on a working research vessel? This study aboard the R/V Sea Dawg emphasizes the biological communities of an estuary and the abundance and diversity of organisms living there. Students sort and identify specimens collected in a trawl net and determine water quality at various sites with standard oceanographic equipment. After the cruise, students identify surface plankton samples and analyze data to better understand factors that influence diversity and abundance of estuary organisms.

7 hours; min/max = 15/20 (students + chaperones)

Bottlenose Dolphin Study (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Following an introductory discussion on cetacean biology, students board skiffs to explore coastal waters while searching for dolphins. From spy hopping to tail slapping, students observe and record dolphin behavior and listen to underwater sounds using a hydrophone.

3.5 hours; min/max = 15/28 (students + chaperones)

Oyster Reef Habitat Exploration (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Travel by skiff to a nearby island and investigate oyster reef communities and their importance to the larger estuarine ecosystem. Students look at oyster reef zonation, collect data on living oysters and explore the organisms living on and around the reef. This class emphasizes STEM objectives.

This class supports River of Words program coordinated by Georgia Project WET and the Georgia Center for the Book.

3.5 hours; min/max = 15/28 (students + chaperones)

Marine Debris on Barrier Islands (Grades 5-12, College, Adult)

Build on Marine Debris 101 with field exploration on a wild barrier island. Students collect marine debris at designated sandy beach sites using NOAA shoreline survey protocols. Students gain a better understanding of this important issue as they determine types of marine debris, the weight of plastics collected and debris accumulation rates.

7 hours; min/max = 15/28 (students + chaperones)

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