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Marine Science

Study Marine Science at the School by the Sea. Where there’s a will, there’s a wave.

Program and Facilities

Our unique location and facilities are unrivaled at secondary school and most collegiate levels and allow for a myriad of place-based learning opportunities. The Marine and Nautical Science (MANS) Center, built in 2005, is situated in a beautiful salt marsh directly on Sippican Harbor. The facility, including the Schaefer Wet Lab and Touch Tanks, is a perfect place to study marine biology. The location of the MANS Center and its ability to pump, filter, and store seawater for our research tanks, replicating or manipulating harbor conditions, holds enormous opportunities for research and exploration. This combined with the breadth of the courses we offer and our growing network of collaborations makes our Marine Science program unique.

The curriculum begins with Biology of the Oceans, biology taught through an ocean-oriented lens. This course prepares students for any of the following electives, all of which include lab or fieldwork:

  • Ichthyology
  • Marine Field Ecology
  • Marine Fisheries
  • Marine Invertebrates
  • Marine Vertebrates: Reptiles, Mammals, & Birds
  • Oceanography

Research Opportunities

Tabor students are engaged in real research, not just labs. Tabor teachers have always used the marshes, beaches, and harbor near Tabor as a living laboratory. Our Marine Field Ecology students research species of marsh grasses influenced by abiotic conditions in various intertidal zones, while also observing animal habitats utilizing many different sorts of transect lines, quadrats, nets and other equipment in order to catalog the life they witness. An example is our recent mapping and monitoring study of harbor eelgrass beds. Using drones, ROV's and GPS coordinates for set markers, students monitor the progression or regression of the eelgrass beds over time. A harbinger of changing water quality, the students observe the effects of nitrogen loading, temperature change, and increased human impact. Our research sparks student questions and further research about what is happening in our coastal environment today and why. Sharing our data with local scientific non-profits extends the impact of our students' effort and its importance. 

AT Marine Science

AT Marine Science is offered to ten individuals a year, after a selective application process by the Marine Science Department is conducted. The class requires each student to develop a yearlong, graduate-level research project. Specific research may fall within any of the marine science topics including marine ecology, oceanography, marine conservation, and marine biology. The course will culminate with a publishable, scientific paper, and a public presentation of the research at the end of May. In a recent project aimed at expanding and evolving engineering-based marine science research tools at Tabor, Seawolves became the first high school students in the United States to use an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler from Nortek technology. 

Network of Collaborations

Our faculty has built mutually beneficial relationships with important non-profit research institutions in our area such as:

  • Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  • Buzzards Bay Coalition
  • Town of Marion Shellfish Department
  • Northeastern University
  • Roger Williams University
  • UMASS School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST)
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • U.S. National Parks Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey and more

Tabor students contribute data for their research, and their scientists invite us to their labs or visit our classrooms to share their work and ideas. About four times a year, we invite our whole community to get involved through our Science@Work Lecture Series. Everyone learns from this growing network that involves Tabor in relevant scientific research.

Hands-On Learning

Students volunteer in our wet lab and with our oyster farm to gain more experience that can supplement what they are learning in the classroom. They are directly involved with animal care, water quality monitoring, tank design and filtration. This experience expands their technical skills and practical knowledge and sets our students apart when pursuing a marine science degree in college.

Marine and Nautical Science Center

Students in waders going out into Sippican Harbor

Recent Independent Study Projects

Independent study is popular among our students. Recent projects include heat shocking oysters; studying the effects of ocean acidification on oysters; breeding clownfish under a number of different variables including tank size, size of mates, and cross breeding between different color morphs; determining the economics of wild raised aquaculture oysters versus lab raised aquaculture oysters. One senior worked to enhance our salt water reef tank by incorporating small polyp stony corals (SPS), similar to the type of coral being researched by Tabor students in the Bahamas (as part of the REEF Program). Another student designed and built a tank exhibit for local species; and another hopes to publish his work researching concentrations of microplastics in local fish populations. 

Tabor has allowed me to explore my passions by giving me the classroom opportunity to do completely independent research. My teacher is a wonderful resource, but all the ideas, and the work to make them happen, are my own— just as the course is designed to be.Luke Saletta ’24