Why Marine Biology ClassSeptember, 2023
It's mind blowing to grasp that the vast expanse of dark blue water we watch while relaxing on the Jersey Shore makes up less than a fraction of the entire ocean, which in turn occupies almost 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. The ocean creates a habitat occupied by over 276,878 known species of marine animals that have thrived for millions of years. As with all mysteries, questions arise and studies accompany them: marine biology, the study of marine life and human impact on the marine ecosystems, places a focus on the miracle that is our oceans. As pollution and climate change become a recurring topic in current times, the need for environmental awareness has surged, and a general environmental science class may not meet the demands for in-depth study of marine science.
Due to the diversified nature of the PHS science curriculum and courses, students are able to take a deep dive into specialized science topics, including organic chemistry, planetary science, environmental science, anatomy, forensics, and more. Yet for some reason, Marine Biology is absent. On a hot summer day, the common thought process of a New Jersey resident would be to spend a day at the beach and swim in the ocean. Being exposed to the East Coast staple that is the Jersey Shore, many New Jersey students develop a love for the ocean, and in turn the marine sciences.
“We are a coastal state. New Jersey is famous for its beaches. There's so many opportunities in the state that I think we should take advantage of… we should absolutely be integrating more into our curriculum” said biology and Research teacher Mark Eastburn.
Unfortunately, a day trip to the shore might be slightly out of reach for the average student. Including a marine biology course at PHS, however, could make learning about the ocean just that bit more accessible, fueling the curiosity of students who don’t have the resources to go down to the shore.
Aside from fostering greater curiosity about the ocean among students, a marine biology class could also help point students toward a prospective major. More and more, students have been undecided about their majors when entering college. Fortunately, providing more specialized courses that properly direct students could remedy this disorientation. In essence, a marine biology class may just be the specialized science classes PHS students need.
Though even without a course of direction, Eastburn mentions that still he has and had students who were particularly interested in marine biology.
“I have multiple students who want to pursue marine biology. And I have students, even outside of the research program, who come to me with an interest in doing a project associated with marine biology,” Eastburn said.
The sheer amount of undiscovered and understudied marine could have a plethora of uses – explaining the unknown, discovering alternate biofuels to save the planet, and even curing diseases. PHS’ resources and university-collaboration opportunities can play a role in new developing scientific interests, which may result in future discoveries.
“This is a very unique place where you can make amazing things happen. You can't do this anywhere else. One town over, Westminster, they can't do this; Montgomery, they can't do this. We can do this. And we're the only ones, so let's leverage that. Let's not be West Windsor. Let's not be Ewing, let's not be Montgomery. Let's be frickin Princeton.”