Fourteen students spending the semester in the Florida Keys will be

attending classes under the sea, in the Everglades and on the beach.

This expedition, dubbed "The Marine Biology Sea-Mester," led by David J.

Fox, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, is the first

of its kind at the University of Tennessee for students with an interest in

marine biology.

University faculty members J. Mark Alston, Tom Broadhead and John Nolt will

teach natural history of the vertebrates of South Florida and the Keys,

marine geology and environmental ethics, respectively. Each instructor will

spend approximately 50 hours in the classroom and in the field with the

students. Fox will teach comparative invertebrate biology and advanced

marine invertebrates as well as oversee the students' individual research

projects.

Students in Alston's course will learn to identify common vertebrates of

the area using readily available resources such as field guides. They will

also explore the habitats and behaviors of these animals. Broadhead, a

professor of geology, has structured his course to help students examine

not only the bedrock of the Florida Keys but also the living plants and

animals of the surrounding waters.

Participants will study the distributions of living marine plants and

animals and will relate those to the sandy sediments, composed of limey

shells and skeletons, which are the next stage to the formations of solid

limestone. Nolt, associate professor of philosophy, is expected to place a

decidedly marine twist to his environmental ethics course taught here at

the university.

Sea-Mester students will participate in both land and sea-based studies.

Some participants will receive advanced level scuba certification and

instruction in underwater photography. Diving officer/instructor Bill

Boswell, Jr. is coordinating these boating, swimming, snorkeling and diving

activities.

Students will have the use of two vessels to explore both the Florida Bay

and Atlantic Ocean marine environments. Prior to leaving Knoxville,

students completed the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's Boating Skills and

Seamanship Course. Also, through the Student Aquatic Center, participants

received certifications in CPR and first aid.

Boswell has applied for and received grants from the PADI Project

A.W.A.R.E. (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility Education) Foundation,

Divers Alert Network, J.L. Darling Corp., Pelican Products, Inc. and

Underwater Kinetics, Inc.; in the form of funds and products in support of

this program.

Students can keep up with Sea-Mester students on the web by going to the UT

Division of Biology home page (http://www.bio.utk.edu), then "Educational

and Evolutionary Biology," "Courses" and "Sea-Mester Course." Activities,

topics, projects and underwater photographs will be posted weekly. Those

interested in Sea-Mester '99 can send e-mail to Fox at djfox@utk.edu.