Field Courses

Gain experience in applied environmental conservation

Introduction

The field courses on "Applied Research & Conservation of the Aegean Sea", offer the opportunity to student groups of school and universities from all around the world to join the research and conservation actions of Archipelagos Institute. It is an exciting opportunity for students to acquire hands-on experience in applied environmental research, as well as an understanding of issues in environmental conservation. The courses are tailored according to the age and interests of each group. The field courses take place on the beautiful island of Samos and/or the islets of the northern Dodecanese. With a unique biodiversity and rich culture it is the perfect setting for a true field experience. While taking part in various research projects in both marine (fish,seagrass,dolphins,…) and terrestrial fields (jackals, chameleons, birds,…), the students acquire practical experience and skills, while at the same time contributing to important conservation efforts.

Archipelagos Institute has several bases with the necessary research facilities and over 15 years of experience in offering field courses, in cooperation with a large number of universities (eg Essex university UK, Cardiff University UK, Texas Arlington USA), schools  (eg Culver Academies USA, Secondary Technical School in Otrokovice, the Czech Republic), and international organisations (Operation Wallacea). Only in 2016, over 500 students from 22 countries participated in the field courses and other educational actions of Archipelagos institute.

    Archipelagos Institute specializes in different fields that are presented below. Student groups can select among the following topics including several activities as well as a combination of different topics. Since field courses depend on the age and background of participants we suggest you contact us so that we can make a personalized schedule that fits your student group best.

Marine Conservation

This field course has several sections including Aegean fish identification, seagrass surveys and kayak-based seagrass mapping surveys. The course trains students in the identification of the Aegean fish species likely to be encountered during snorkelling surveys. They can learn the methods for completing “Seagrass Watch” surveys on 50m transects via snorkelling. On top of that, students can also have the opportunity to kayak above the seagrass meadows, using a camera and bethoscopes as well as simple sonar, whose readings can be seen in real time via tablets on the other kayaks. The combined use of this equipment will allow the students to monitor and map the area of the seagrass meadow, as well as human impacts these may suffer from. This field course therefor offers hands on experience in conservation and monitoring efforts focusing on water based activities (mainly snorkelling).See extra’s section for Scuba diving opportunities.

Marine Mammals

The waters around the Samos island are important for populations of marine mammals such as several dolphin and whale species, as well as sea turtles. These populations are classified either as ‘at risk’ or ‘data deficient’. Their habitat is in desperate need of protection, as it is subjected to a wide range of anthropogenic threats. The aim of Archipelagos is to better understand and monitor the habitat structure and population dynamics of cetaceans around the eastern Aegean islands. The ultimate goal is the implementation of “Marine Protected Areas” and supporting effective conservation actions and management policies in order to protect the cetacean and other species biodiversity. Data are gathered from transects on boat-based surveys.  At regular points along the transect hydrophones are used to listen for whale calls.  In addition, the GPS positions of all cetacean sightings are noted.  At the sites where the cetaceans are sighted various oceanographic data are taken (eg depth, temperature and salinity profile). Another method for observing marine mammals is by conducting land surveys where the mammals can be observed from higher located areas on the island. Students will also receive an introduction in the photo identification of marine mammals used by our researchers. This field course will therefore be mostly boat and land based.

Terrestrial Conservation

Besides its marine biodiversity, the island also hosts a great range of unique terrestrial species. This field course involves helping with camera trapping and nocturnal call back surveys for the golden jackal. Samos supports the only island population of golden jackals in the Mediterranean. The objective is to investigate the distribution and genetic diversity of the jackal population on the island in relation to factors such as habitat and land use, as well as to promote its conservation efforts. It also includes spotlight searches for chameleons in different habitats around the Island to estimate the remaining population size of this species, which in the past has been heavily collected for illegal pet trade. In addition, the teams are assessing the distribution of the chameleons around Samos and the factors affecting this distribution. Students will also participate in bird surveys around Samos which is an important migratory station for a large number of rare and protected bird species. The invertebrate biodiversity of the island is also part of this field course and will be included by using a range of sampling techniques including pit fall trapping, and light trapping.

Theoretical Courses

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Archipelagos Institute also offers the students to complete the Aegean Island Ecology Course. This course focusses on several topics such as Aegean ecology and conservation, marine survey techniques, terrestrial survey techniques and terrestrial conservation, Mediterranean fisheries, marine conservation, invasive species, conservation in action - examples from the Mediterranean, marine plastics and pollution. These theoretical courses form a great addition to the field courses and are interesting to be added prior to the field courses for a more complete knowledge and experience.

Extras

Archaeological Visits: The students may have the chance to visit some archaeological sites of historical significance, such as the ancient Temple of Goddess Hera and the Tunnel of Eupalinos, both of which are mentioned by the famous Historian Herodotus, who is often referred to as the Father of History. The small historic villages on both the coast and in the mountains reflect Greece’s rich history and can make this experience even more complete.
Scuba Diving Certification: Participants can be offered the possibility to obtain the PADI or SSI Open Water Diver certification in combination with or in addition to one of the field courses.

Participants who join the snorkeling and/or dive based survey activities (Underwater Visual Census UVC surveys) will be expected to bring their own snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, wetsuits), or they can rent/purchase these locally, following prior relevant arrangement. Weight belts are provided.
A guided archaeological tour in Samos can also be organised, with a rented bus, at an extra cost.

    The Archipelagos base is situated in the stunning island of Samos in the eastern Aegean Sea, Greece, just off the Turkish coastline. Due to the geographical position of Samos and its proximity to the protected Turkish peninsula, the region supports a wealth of rare wildlife both on land and in the sea. The area represents a unique biogeographical crossroad between three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa. Apart from being biologically unique, the island possesses important archaeological sites and fascinating ancient history. In antiquity it was home to prominent figures such as the mathematician Pythagoras, the storyteller Aesop, the philosopher Epicurus and the astronomer Aristarchus.

The island of Samos supports a rare and unique biodiversity that includes some of the most important remaining populations of marine mammals and turtles in the Mediterranean and has extensive areas of protected habitats such as Posidonia seagrass meadows. Samos is one of the only islands in the Mediterranean with populations of golden jackals and chameleons. The terrestrial and marine habitats in the area and the fauna that they house are also threatened by disturbances (e.g. development, illegal fishing practices, bycatch and persecution of marine mammals).

    Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation has established a long term monitoring effort, being implemented by researchers from all over the world, in order to develop and implement management and protection strategies. We have several other bases aside from the one in Samos and part of the field course could be spent travelling south to the more remote island complexes of Lipsi and Arki. (keeping in mind that in the small islets we provide much more basic dorm style-accommodation) Alternatively, you could be based only on Samos, and carry out trips that start and end on Samos every day.

    On Samos Island, students will stay in a small hotel, which is about 300m from the Archipelagos research base. Accommodation is in shared rooms of up to 6 people. The research station itself has lab and lecture facilities, as well as a communal dining area. Moreover, Archipelagos has access to a hired coach and Archipelagos registered vehicles in order to carry the students among the different sites. The base is located a few kilometers from the historical village of Pythagorio -the home town of the famous mathematician Pythagoras- and is just a few metres from the beach where you can see the sun rising behind the Turkish mountains.

Archipelagos has over 15 years of experience in offering field courses, in cooperation with a large number of universities, schools, and international organisations. Every year we receive over 200 students, academics, teachers and students from universities and colleges located in many parts of the world. In 2016, over 500 students from 22 countries participated in the field courses and other educational actions of Archipelagos institute.

Universities

Since 2007 Archipelagos has been hosting the annual field courses for several universities from the EU and the USA. These modules allow students to acquire hands-on experience related to research and conservation projects through their work at Archipelagos.
The final year field course in marine geography for the Cardiff University, UK, runs annually since 2007. Project areas include hydrographic surveys, coastal biodiversity – underwater visual census surveys, water quality assessment and integrated coastal zone management as well as marine mammal research.
The taught module course for final year marine biology students of the Essex University, UK, covers fields such as fisheries research, microplastic research, mapping protected marine habitats and marine mammal research.
A new field course on “Oceanography & Applied Marine Conservation” has started these days in Archipelagos’ research base on Samos island. It is a taught module course for final year marine biology students of Essex University, UK, which from this year will be taught annually in Archipelagos’ research bases in the Aegean: on the islands of Samos, Lipsi and Ikaria.

For the design of this new field course, many months of preparation were required, in cooperation with academics from Essex University. The field course focuses on: fisheries and oceanographic research, marine pollution, mapping protected marine habitats and monitoring of marine mammal populations.

Through this cooperation we are greatly impressed by the good level, true interest and the concern of the students in issues related to the protection of our seas. It is really hopeful to cooperate with academics who truly inspire the new generation of scientists.
The taught module for biology students of Royal Holloway University of London, UK, covers the fields of terrestrial fauna research and conservation, as well as coastal ecosystems and protected marine habitats research and conservation.

Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation has collaborated with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of the University of Texas at Arlington, organizing a six-week study abroad program in the Aegean Islands. The program focuses on applying computer and information technologies in interdisciplinary projects related to marine and terrestrial wildlife conservation. It is organized jointly with the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” and the University of the Aegean (Department of Information and Communication Systems Engineering).

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Schools and colleges

Every year, student groups from a number of high schools from different parts of the world, participate in an educational program organized by Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. We have previously collaborated with for example the Culver Academies in the USA and Secondary Technical School in Otrokovice, the Czech Republic. Working closely with researchers, the students acquire multidisciplinary knowledge necessary in their later university education while enjoying the natural beauty of the eastern Aegean.

Student Research Expeditions

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Archipelagos has joined forces with Operation Wallacea and together we organize research expeditions and field courses in applied environmental conservation in the eastern Aegean Sea. Every year over 200 students, academics, teachers and students from universities and colleges located in many parts of the world (USA, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, France, India, Jordan and Hong Kong) participate in these expeditions.

Archipelagos offers field courses according to the age and background of the participating students. This personal approach allows you to set up a personalized field course program. To apply for a field course for your school or university or for more information, please email us at admissions@archipelago.gr

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