Tropical Marine Ecology of Australia's East Coast - Summer or January Short Course


GlobaLinks Learning Abroad has designed this short-term program with your individual student goals in mind. It is built around a unique Discovery Model which is delivered by some of the best staff in study abroad, both in the U.S. and overseas, in order to provide you with an individualized experience through discovery in 5 key areas: personal, academic, cultural, social, and career. Learn more about the Discovery Model.

The course will provide an introduction to tropical marine ecosystems and the interactions of humans with these systemsIt includes opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, reef walking, wildlife observation, nature photography and hiking. Through hands on research and exploration, you will be introduced to a fascinating world that until now you may have only imagined. Queensland, a place of adventure and amazement, rich in natural treasures and home to The Great Barrier Reef - what a great place to learn Marine Ecology.


Leading to a concentration on the ecology of tropical marine ecosystems, lectures will cover a broad range of topics in marine science:

  • The Marine Environment
  • Marine Biodiversity
  • Tropical Marine Ecosystems: features and ecology of major tropical marine ecosystems
  • Biogeography: factors influencing the animal and plant communities of islands
  • Human exploitation and impacts

Students in the June 2009 course were featured on the popular Australian TV show "Totally Wild" earlier this year.  Check it out on the GlobaLinks Newswire:



Learn more about Tropical Marine Ecology:


















Queensland, a place of adventure and amazement, rich in natural treasures and home of the Great Barrier Reef, is a great place to learn marine ecology. You will begin the course in Brisbane, then continue on to experience extensive field studies on three unique island ecosystems (Stradbroke Island, Heron Island and North Keppel Island) before finishing in Cairns. 

Course Destinations


With a population of approximately 2 million, this city is the capital of the state of Queensland is a top tourist destination in Australia.

Stradbroke Island

One of the worlds’ largest sand islands, it encompasses an incredible variety of landscapes, long sand beaches, mud flats, and rocky shores. 


Heron Island

A coral cay located on the Great Barrier Reef where we will stay at one of the principal coral reef centers in the world. Surrounded by a flourishing draining platform reef encompassing a lagoon, the cay provides easy access by foot or by boat to an extensive range of reef habitats. 


North Keppel Island

North Keppel Island is wholly situated within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The island and its surrounding waters have exceptionally high amenity and natural values in terms of fringing coral reefs, attractive beaches, rugged headlands together with a variety of natural land systems. Students will experience the following marine ecologies:

  • Numerous fringing coral reefs
  • 4 general marine environments
  • Extensive grassland communities
  • Eucalypt dominated open forests
  • 9 beaches
  • 2 major tidal creek areas
  • Mangrove communities
  • Low closed woodlands 

On each island students will conduct various field projects involving surveying the distribution and abundance of marine organisms as well as making behavioral observations.



Cairns is an attractive coastal city with a population of 170,000.  Over two million visitors each year come to enjoy the spectacular natural attractions and activities on offer, including scuba diving and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or exploring the ancient rainforest, rivers and waterfalls.  Cairns enjoys an excellent tropical climate for most of the academic year including autumn, winter, and spring, and an average winter temperature of around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. 

**Please note, this course is very focused on the time spent at the Research Station Islands. Therefore, 6 days (total) will be spent on the mainland of Australia. Students will spend the majority of their time exploring and researching the ecologies and marine environments on the above stated three Great Barrier Reef islands.  


Allow National Geographic to introduce you to the Great Barrier Reef, a famous natural wonder of the world and your research location 

Academic Focus

Course Structure

This course will introduce students to the study of tropical marine ecology through formal lectures and practical field experience. It will provide a solid foundation in general marine ecology for students interested in a career in marine research, conservation and management, marine education or related fields. It will also cover issues of particular significance to Australia such as marine park management and conservation, island biogeography, Australian fauna and flora, and Australian indigenous culture.

Research Projects

Students will conduct their own research projects in marine ecology during the course (in small groups of 3-4 people). A series of workshops will cover scientific methods, hypothesis testing, field sampling and data analysis to assist students to design and conduct their research projects. All research projects will involve collection of field data to explore a specific topic, which will be selected in consultation with academic staff.


Topics Explored*:

  • Introduction to Oceanography
  • Sand Island Ecology
  • Whales and Dolphins of the Australian Coast
  • Biology of the Dugongs
  • Coral Reef Biology and Geology
  • Coral Reef Fish
  • Toxic and Venomous Marine Life
  • Marine Invertebrates
  • Island Biodiversity
  • Continental Islands
  • Shark Ecology
  • Mangrove Ecology
  • Ecology of the Marine Turtles  

*Subjects and topics may be changed at the discretion of the course instructors.

Cultural Field Trips and Studies

Learning will be heightened through a wide variety of cultural program visits that will provide meaningful, immersion experiences*:

  • Walking tour of Brisbane
  • Visits to the Great Barrier Reef
  • Snorkeling
  • Point Lookout Excursion - experience high energy shore environments
  • Island Walks
  • Reef Walk
  • Evening Plankton Trawl
  • Passions of Paradise Reef Trip
  • Reforestation - Kuranda

*Field trips and excursions are subject to change based on scheduling availability.



Individual Project Report 40%
Group Oral Presentations 30% (3 talks at 10% each)
Individual Scientific Journal 30%


Students will receive 4 U.S. credits on an official transcript for the course Tropical Field Studies 280 from Long Island University, C.W. Post campus, upon successful completion of the course.  


Program Highlights

  • Learn and practice marine science in one of the most stunning coastal living environments on the planet
  • Tour spectacular islands, rain forests, and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Led by preeminent marine biology faculty from both Australia and the U.S.

Who Should Apply

Open to students from all majors with a strong interest to learn about the marine environment and ecology of Eastern Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. Students should have completed at least one undergraduate 100-level biology course completed or receive special permission from the instructor to attend this program.  


During the Tropical Marine Ecology of Australia's East Coast short term program students will stay in a variety of accommodations based on the location of the course. During the portions of the program where students will be on the Research Islands the accommodations will consist of standard dorm style housing. Students will be housed with their fellow marine science peers. When not on the research islands students will be housed in in shared bedrooms in hotels and hostels with shared bathroom facilities.

You can feel certain that your housing will be safe, secure, and clean, and that you will be satisfied with your short course program choice. All housing fees are included in the Program Fees.


Group Flights

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad works together with STA Travel's group ticket office to arrange group flights for all short course students. This ensures that students can travel as a cohesive group to the program destination. Airfare is not included in program fees and payment of airfare is the responsibility of the student, however GlobaLinks Learning Abroad seeks the lowest possible student rate before reserving seats for participants to purchase, while still maintaining the flexibility that allows students to explore the country or surrounding countries at the conclusion of their short term program.   


Flexible Return Date

Additionally, group flights have a flexible return date. Students may choose their own return date to allow for personal travel after the conclusion of the program. Many students choose to extend their time overseas and travel independently after the program's end. We can provide you with useful travel resources and advice, as well as refer you to travel opportunities that can be pre-booked.


Scholarships Available

Featured Scholarships For All GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Students 

Participants of GlobaLinks Learning Abroadshort course programs are eligible for scholarships.  More information about these awards can be found at

Other General Study Abroad Scholarships

We encourage students to consider other information sources to locate scholarships such as your library, bookstore, internet, local service organizations such as Rotary or Knights of Columbus, and professional organizations in your area and home country which may offer scholarships.

To get started, visit the Scholarship Resource page.

Photo Slideshow


Watch a slideshow of photos documenting the Tropical Marine Ecology program.


Tropical Marine Ecology of Australia's East Coast
Program FeesTBD
Housing with MealsIncluded in program fees
Housing without MealsIncluded in program fees
What's includedSee below

Fee Includes

Your Personalized Summer/Short Course Program Includes

Tuition and instruction
An official transcript from Long Island University (LIU-Post)
Host university activity and insurance fees
Most meals for the duration of the program
Shared accommodations in facilities ranging from backpackers, to an environmental education center, and a research station
Cultural tours, excursions, and activities - such as nature walks, snorkeling/diving, boating, and more!
24/7 support for students and parents at home and abroad
Pre-departure materials and travel gear
Comprehensive assistance
Personal program manager
Scholarship and financial aid assistance
Facilitation of course selection / credit transfer
HTH Worldwide health insurance protection
Alumni opportunities, including professional ambassador program
International Student Identity Card
Exclusive Career-Building Alumni Institute (add-on option)

Additional inclusions may vary by term or year. Please contact the program manager for more details.

*All fees are subject to change.


Should you receive an offer, your offer letter will provide you with the most up to date university start dates. GlobaLinks Learning Abroad will attempt to provide you with the most up-to-date information as we receive it. Be sure to confirm dates before finalizing any travel plans. 

Entry Requirements

Applicants must have the required GPA and have completed at least the equivalent of one year of full-time study at the university/college level. Undergraduate students should have completed foundation subjects in at least one 100 level biology subjects or receive special permission from the instructor.

Required GPA: 2.50

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Program Team

Program Manager
Program Manager