Research & Education Projects

Research and Education projects described in this section include a sampling of the ecosystem habitats that host MCERC programs. The Education Hub presents a detailed view of places and topics investigated by the science team and explored during field programs. Please visit and have a look around, then join us by enrolling in programs today!

Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea Turtle Conservation with collaborators is of interest to many humans. These charismatic animals help bring areas of concern to the hearts of many people when photos of injured, drowned, or ill individuals circulate through social media. Our faculty strive to create ambassadors for marine conservation who share facts and bring realistic actions every human can embrace. Photo credit: JP Zegarra

Global Involvement

Partnering with organizations and scientists internationally and in the USA to bring resources to projects and education to many citizen scientists, residents, interns, students, and everyone interested in marine conservation. Photo Credit: Mithriel MacKay


Field Sites

Field sites include locations along the coast, studying reefs, in warm waters of the Caribbean, and frigid waters of the Arctic. Photo credit: JP Zegarra



Cetacean (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are “charismatic megafauna” and the focal research effort in many of the locations MCERC teams study. These two humpback whales were observed in the Caribbean Sea and behaviors were recorded then analyzed. This study, and others like it, continue to result in significant new information about their life history. Behaviors are a clue which lead our scientists to ask “why and how do they do that?!”. Ethology (the study of behaviors) is often the first step that pulls MCERC collaborators together to solve mysteries, and those answers help marine managers design conservation strategies. Photo credit: Mithriel MacKay


Sharks are keystone species in the integrated ecosystems of the oceans. Behaviors of sharks are often misunderstood but, with the help of MCERC programs, the fascinating life history of many sharks is being shared with more humans. Get the facts and spread the information and take an active role in marine conservation. Photo credit: JP Zegarra



Manatee live in areas that humans also appreciate. They need warm waters and will move to small and shallow waterways if the ocean temperatures drop too low for them to remain healthy. Their near-shore occupancy means that interactions with swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and boaters frequently overlap. Other human activities can alter the dynamics of their nearshore habitats. MCERC teams are creating novel ways for citizen scientists to collect important data and send it through their smart phones to our database with a few taps in an app! Stay tuned for a new splash page with information on how you can be an ambassador for marine conservation where you live, work, and vacation by collaborating with MCERC’s dedicated research assistants and interns leading the project! Photo credit: Mithriel MacKay



Malacology (the study of seashells) reveal clues into local efforts for conservation of marine ecosystems, but did you know that comparing seashells from locations around the globe can also help to educate humans about evolutionary biology? It’s true! There are always opportunities for humans interested in seashells to become enamored, fascinated, and involved in the extensive collection at MCERC. Identification, updating catalogs, and sharing that information n the form of education posters and presentations, is a massive ongoing project. Our faculty and citizen scientists collect examples of seashells and sand faster than we can identify them all! Be careful if you decide to pitch in and match species to seashells. It’s addicting! Photo credit: Duane Sanabria


Shore Birds

Local shore birds, like this gorgeous egret, are important species in coastal ecology. MCERC teams explore and explain the connectivity between coastal habitats with terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Our citizen science ambassadors create education messages to bring awareness of the impact humans have on coastal and marine ecosystems with an aim at engaging more humans to make small changes in their habits. Positive conservation actions are often as simple as shifting to choices suggested by our ambassadors. MCERC citizen science ambassadors work within the education teams to communicate to as many humans how to easily shift daily habits to collectively reduce negative impacts to coastal habitats on a local, regional, ocean wide, and global scale. Photo credit: Mithriel MacKay

PUBLICATIONS: Click the little guys above!
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