New Polar Studies Course Includes Field Research in Subarctic

ORONO, Maine – The University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences is offering a 2012 summer course called Polar Marine Ecology, the highlight of which will be a two-week stay at a subarctic research station in northern Canada.

UMaine marine biologist and assistant research professor Rhian Waller will teach the course, which is designed to give upper-level undergraduates and graduate students a broad and basic knowledge of polar marine processes, and so is suitable for students who have not taken any prior courses in polar ecology. Prerequisites are introductory level marine biology and marine ecology classes, or permission from the instructor. The registration deadline is March 30 and places are limited to 15 students.

The overall goal of this course is to provide students not only a working background of these unique and threatened ecosystems, but also the opportunity to conduct research in the field.

The course has two sessions, the first of which will be held June 11-26 at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, and will focus on in-class seminar teaching and instruction in basic field skills needed for the field school in Canada. The focus will be on benthic and pelagic ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as the history of polar explorations and scientific discoveries, and current threats to the polar regions.

The second session, which will run July 3-14, will be taught at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba. On site in the Canadian subarctic, students will compare temperate Maine to Hudson Bay through group research projects. Students will take field trips to sites of Arctic natural history and historical sites such as Fort William and an Eskimo museum, and will examine the ecology of polar bears, beluga whales and permafrost. Students will also have the option of snorkeling with Beluga whales in Hudson Bay.

The course fee, in addition to regular UMaine tuition and fees, will be from $2,300 to $2,800, depending on how many students enroll. The fee includes all accommodations and meals at both the Darling Marine Center and the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, two-day train travel from Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Churchill, all materials and supplies for field projects, all bench fees for laboratory use and all field trips and museum visits. Students are responsible for paying their way to Winnipeg.

Partial and full scholarships are available to UMaine students for course fees.

UMaine students can register directly through MaineStreet. Non-UMaine students should contact William Ellis at (207) 581-4360 for additional academic and registration information. The course website is

Contact: Rhian Waller, (207) 563-3146, ext. 254, or; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or