Coral Reef Ecology (6 ECTS)

Semester: 1st (2nd year students only)

Scheduled as an internship without having formal classes

Code: 14331094

Coordinator: Aschwin Engelen (

At the end of Coral Reef Ecology internship, students will be able to:

  • identify common coral, seaweeds and sponge species to understand community composition (and changes therein) on Caribbean reefs
  • quantify the abundance of aforementioned organisms using standard surveying techniques
  • determine the physiological state of corals and algae underwater using specialized equipment (PAM fluorometer)
  • perform scientific tasks using SCUBA
  • formulate a hypothesis based on literature, design and execute a research project to test this hypothesis and present the results in an oral presentatio
  • have obtained skills in experimental design, data analyses and presenting research plans and results.
  • explain the value of coral reefs in providing ecosystem services to human societies and describe the threats that anthropogenic impacts impose on reefs and their capacity to deliver these services.


  • PADI openwater certified
  • Students should have a Divers Alert Network (DAN) Silver insurance (about € 80)

Note: this course is optional and has costs for students (plane ticket, accommodation at the marine station and an amount to be defined for other costs, including rental vehicles for commuting, laboratory space and bottle rental for 2 daily dives per student to carry out work on coral reefs). The total costs will be 1650 €. Please refer to a flyer for further details.


10 h of lectures + 70 h of fieldwork + 88 h of independent work.

The course entirely takes place on Curaçao and includes lectures, fieldwork, and experiments.


Registration on electives (except field and Lab methods) are dealt with directly with the Serviços Académicos. The MBM coordination will not interfere in that process. Be attentive that if you enrol in a subject and later on you want to change you are subject to a small penalty, so think well beforehand on what are your best options.


Students in groups of two will have to prepare a detailed research plan, which will have to present at the end of the course. They will participate in an ID survey and will be evaluated by an ID exam and the presentation of the research plan. The minimum passing grade for each component will be 9 out of 20.



  1. Day 1 — buoyancy control dive and skill practicing
  2. Day 2-4 — coral, seaweed and sponge ID, ID exam
  3. Day 5-6 — species interactions on coral reefs
  4. Day 7 — coral reef surveys
  5. Day 8-11 — mini research project
  6. Day 12 — project presentation