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GET Marine


CPP Courses with Marine Field Experiences


Marine Ecology


Collect data in intertidal tide pools & estuaries, and go on a full day boat trip to Catalina Island.


Ecology & Conservation of Hawaiian Ecosystems

(Every other Spring) Spring break field trip to collect data while snorkeling on Hawaiian coral reefs. 


Biology of Fishes

 (Every other Fall)

Use multiple sampling methods to catch and ID local marine fish from boats or the shore.


Field Biology - Tropical Marine Ecology Panama

(Every other Spring) Spring break field trip to Bocas del Toro Panama to collect data while snorkeling in coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass habitats.


Field Biology - Marine Biodiversity

(Every other Fall)

Work as a team using beach seine nets to collect a data set of nearshore fish biodiversity in southern California. 


Topic - Aquatic Sampling & Safety


Build your snorkel skills by sampling local marine environments and get CPR/First Aid certifications.


Marine Botany

(Every other Spring) Day trips and overnight camping trips to southern and central California intertidal areas to learn all about seaweed!

Additional ways to get marine experience!
The USC Wrigley Institute.jpg

Held every Fall Semester, CSU students live at a marine lab on Catalina Island and take 4 upper division marine biology elective courses. Students are regularly in (e.g., snorkeling) and on the ocean, in the marine wet lab for their courses, and conduct independent research projects. Regular financial aid can be used to cover tuition and room/board. Check out the website and if you have questions contact 

Dr. Smith jaysonsmith @

(CPP BIO Faculty that teaches there).


The "Temporary Positions" job type listed on this Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Job Board are a good place to look for entry level positions all over the country to do right after you graduate (and/or possibly during the summer while you are still in school). A lot of these are paid 4-6 month positions during the summer/fall to get experience working for a state or federal agency . Also check out the Browse by Type list on the right side for other types of positions.


The ITEC Bocas del Toro Biological Station is a private organization that hosts a variety of field/study aboard courses in Panama over winter break and in the summer.  Note: Potentially the CSU COAST Student funding (Field Experiences Support Program) could be used to help cover travel/tuition/equipment costs for this program.


Tidal Influence is an environmental consulting firm started by graduates of the CSULB biology masters program that runs monthly volunteer estuary habitat restoration events (good way to see what it's all about) and also has paid internships.


Apply for Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer programs where you'll do research for 10 weeks with a lab at a university somewhere else in the country, funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). Travel and housing costs are covered + you also get paid $5000-$6000. Apply during your sophomore or junior year (you can't participate after graduating). Application due dates vary by program (typically in Feb), start identifying programs and working on applications during winter break. Search on their website for Ocean Science programs or Biology programs that sound interesting. You should apply to ~10 different programs as they are competitive, but they are looking for diverse students and you do not need previous research experience. 


Back Bay Science Center

The Back Bay Science Center in Newport Beach has a volunteer program with a focus on estuary and marine ecology. There are many ways to get involved, but an initial easy, low-commitment option is going to one of their monthly Marine Life Inventory programs.


Marine Mammal Volunteer/Internships

Two different non-profits in Southern California have volunteer and internship programs associated with their marine mammal rescue & rehabilitation programs. The Marine Mammal Care Center (San Pedro, CA) and the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas, CA (a bit of a drive in traffic). CPP undergraduate students have gotten to work with seals and sea lions as part of these programs

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SCUBA Diving Training & Certifications
In order to use SCUBA to do research you need have your AAUS Scientific Diver Certification. There is a higher level of training and proficiency required for scientific divers than for most recreational divers, and the CPP BRIC offers recreational SCUBA courses (highly discounted for students) which are part of the initial qualifications needed to then take the AAUS certification course. Below are the steps to getting your AAUS Certification, a great thing to have on your CV when you apply to grad school (but you do not have to SCUBA dive to be a marine biologist):
Step 1

Open Water Diver Certification

The BRIC offers discounted "Open Water" SCUBA courses throughout the year. This is the initial recreational scuba certification everyone must do to dive, and is the first step to qualifying to take the AAUS Scientific Diver Certification Course (required to use SCUBA to do research). Getting your Open Water certification card allows you to rent tanks from a dive shop to go diving with a friend or go diving when on vacation.


Advanced Open Water Diver Certification


The BRIC offers discounted "Adv. Open Water" SCUBA courses throughout the year. This certification better prepares you for diving, including deep and night-dive experience. The dives done during the Adv. Open Water course count towards the 12 additional logged dives (after completing the Open Water course) required to qualify to take the AAUS certification course

Step 2

Do (& Log) 12 Additional Dives

One of the requirements to qualify for taking the AAUS Scientific Diver course is to have logged 12 additional dives after completing the dives done as part of the initial Open Water Certification Course. These additional dives can be done as part of an Adv. Open Water course and/or other scuba trips the BRIC offers during spring break (in previous years they've offered trips to the Caribbean or Great Barrier Reef in Australia at big discounts - take advantage of these while you can as a student), and/or you could do local beach/boat dives with a buddy. 


SCUBA Dive Master & Instructor Certifications


The BRIC also offers "dive professional" courses required for those interested in working in the recreational SCUBA industry leading scuba trips or teaching scuba courses. This can be a fun thing to do for a year or two after you graduate (e.g., former students have worked at a tropical dive resort), and they are another path to get more SCUBA experience if you are interested in doing SCUBA based marine biology research. While having your Dive Master or SCUBA Instructor Certification can be an asset on your CV/resume for some Marine Biology related jobs, note that most marine biologists do not have these certifications (they typically just have the required AAUS Scientific Diver Certification).

Step 3

AAUS Scientific Diver Certification


Students and researchers wanting to use SCUBA to conduct research are required (by all US Universities and State/Federal Agencies) to complete the AAUS Scientific Diver Certification. CPP students can take the course offered by our marine lab - the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI). This 2 week intensive course is typically offered in the winter (Jan prior to start of Spring Semester) and in the summer (typically late July).


Motorboat Operator Training Course (MOTC)


Our marine lab, the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI), also offers a 1-week MOTC Certification course (free for CPP students if sponsored by a faculty member associated with SCMI). This is an entry-level training recommended for persons who will be acting as small vessel operators (no previous boating experience needed). It is required to operate SCMI small boats and is the same certification required by most universities, state and federal agencies - so it looks great on graduate school/job applications! 

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