New marine biology class makes a splash

By Craig Gabrielson

Marine biology is making its debut this spring quarter at Whatcom. Biology 159 studies basic biological principles applied to the marine environment, according to the course description on Whatcom’s website.
In the past, Whatcom offered Biology 130, a three-credit course titled, Intertidal Marine Ecology.

“There wasn’t enough time to get through all the cool marine stuff, which is why it got trimmed down to intertitle marine,” biology instructor Hilary Engebretson said.
“It wasn’t transferring very well. For students that wanted to take it to fulfill any science requirement, three credits weren’t enough.”
Engebretson, who usually teaches human anatomy and physiology at Whatcom will be teaching the school’s new marine biology course this spring.
“It needed to be a five-credit class with a lab, so that it fits the kinds of things that students need,” she went on to add.
According to the course description, Biology 159 will cover organic molecules, the behavior of water, cellular functions, the diversity in structure, function and ecology of marine organisms, and human impact on the oceans.
“This is a starting point just to get your feet wet, and see if it’s something you want to throw the next eight years of your life at.
If you have a passion for it, this is a great way to try it out and find out if this is what you love,” Engebretson said.
This new course will include two local-area field trips aligned with lab day.
“[Low tide] ends up hitting twice, two really good ones that is, so we’ll have two field trips. We’ll suss out local places where low tide gives us rocky terrain when it drops because there are a lot of critters that like to hide in there,” Engebretson said. “We’re looking for urchins, crabs, sea stars, lots of weird worms, sea cucumbers, anemones, etc.”
“All the things you would want to know generally about biology, you can think about in a marine environment. We can talk about photosynthesis and cellular respiration and we can get excited about it because now we’re talking about sea weed, phytoplankton and zooplankton …and who doesn’t love marine biology?” Engebretson said light heartedly.
Biology 159 for spring quarter 2017 has already filled up, but Whatcom intends to have the class once per year.

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