Coral, Climate & Culture: An Exploration Seminar in the Marshall Islands

June 22 - July 13, 2009

Professor Julian Sachs

School of Oceanography

University of Washington

Julian Sachs-Director
Julian Sachs-Director
Michelle Townsend-Asst. Director: OTB 108,, 543-5039
Michelle Townsend-Asst. Director: OTB 108,, 543-5039
Alyssa Atwood-Grad Student TA: OSB 508,, 221-6747
Alyssa Atwood-Grad Student TA: OSB 508,, 221-6747
Dan Nelson-Grad Student TA: OSB 508,, 221-6747
Dan Nelson-Grad Student TA: OSB 508,, 221-6747
Oceanography 494, 496, 497, Summer A
Coral, Climate & Culture

Instructor: Julian Sachs

Office: OSB 521
Office Hours: By appointment
Telephone: 206-221-5630

June 10 2009, 6:35 PM
Updated Schedule

We have posted a newly updated schedule of events. (Note that this schedule is still subject to ongoing changes.) We've got a lot of incredible events lined up- hope you are all as excited as we are!

Also, check out this great footage of Tridacna on the Great Barrier Reef:

May 22 2009, 4:13 PM
Second Pre-trip Meeting Agenda and Notes

May 22 2009, 12:28 PM
Underwater Writing Slates
We are going to purchase and provide underwater writing
slates for everyone. You should still have a notebook for the course,
though it does not need to be waterproof.

April 17 2009, 5:52 PM
First Pre-trip Meeting Agenda and Notes

Pre-trip Meeting Agenda

Pre-trip Meeting Notes

Next Meeting:

Wednesday, May 20


Ocean Science Building, 425

March 30 2009, 1:26 PM
First Pre-trip Meeting
We will be having our first pre-trip meeting for the Marshall Islands Exploration Seminar on Thursday April 16th at 4:30-6:00 PM in OSB (Ocean Sciences Bldg) 425. After we all introduce ourselves we will discuss:

- travelling to the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands)
- packing for the trip
- cultural norms in the RMI
- safety
- food and lodging in the RMI
- diving, cultural & environmental policy activities

Please RSVP to Michelle Townsend ( We look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you!

March 17 2009, 5:09 PM
State of the Coral Reefs in the RMI
If you want to get started learning about the coral reefs of the Marshall Islands and threats to them I recommend reading the 2008 report by Beger et al. entitled The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

March 16 2009, 2:47 PM
Marshall Islands Information
For those of you who want to get a head start on learning about the Marshall Islands and the Marshallese people, a good place to start is the website of the RMI Embassy in Washington DC.  There you will find information and links to the physical environment, economy, history, culture, US-RMI relationship, nuclear tests, etc.  Another site you might want to check out is the Marshall Islands Visitors Authority where you will find information useful for travelling in the RMI before or after the Exploration Seminar.  A private site that has a wealth of interesting material on the RMI (and Pacific Islands in general) is Jane Resture's accumulation of historical, cultural and geographical information.

February 26 2009, 12:49 AM
Pre-trip Meetings
I am looking forward to meeting all of you! We are going to have an amazing adventure! We will be having 2-3 pre-trip meetings this Spring, the first of which will be early in the Spring Quarter (Early April) when the course roster should be finalized. I will send you an e-mail with the date and time, and will also post the details on this webpage. If you want to stop by and introduce yourself or discuss anything pertaining to the trip I encourage you to do so.

February 24 2009, 9:25 AM
Air Travel to Majuro

It's a good time to purchase your airline tickets to Majuro. Fares have dropped a bit over the last few months and I just purchased tickets for ~$1650. They may be lower for students.

A good place to get good student fares is:

STA Travel on University Ave (just north of 43rd St., I believe, west side of street. URL at right, phone: 206-329-4567‎,

The course will officially begin on Monday June 22nd, but I expect that we will be able to stay in our dormitories at the College of the Marshall Islands in Majuro Sunday night June 21st. To get to the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands) on Sunday you need to leave the continental US on Saturday. And that is the only flight of the week from Seattle that gets you to the RMI without an overnight in Honolulu (I believe it is Northwest Airlines SEA-HNL, then Continental Micronesia HNL-MAJ). If you plan to depart the RMI immediately after the Seminar then you should try to get on the 8:00 pm flight out on Monday night July 13th (Continental Micronesia, Majuro-Honolulu).

February 24 2009, 9:02 AM

The vaccinations you should get to travel to the Marshall Islands are listed at the CDC website ( and include:

1. Standard (that you all should already have): measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT), poliovirus

2. Hepatitis A

3. Hepatitis B

4. Typhoid

Check with your healthcare provider about which of these you should get and when to get them.

Credits Offered
This program will offer a total of 6 credits, including five (5) credits of one of the following options, plus one (1) credit of GEN ST 392:
  • OCEAN 494, Field Experience (NW)
  • OCEAN 496, Study Abroad (NW)
  • OCEAN 497, Advanced Special Topics (NW)
  • The OCEAN credit would count towards the UW 20 credit Natural World requirement or the Oceanography major's 20-credit upper division science requirement.
  • Participants should check with their advisors to determine how these credits can count towards departmental requirements.
Course Reading

IPCC Summary for Policy Makers
RMI Climate Change UN Framework
The State of Coral Reefs in the RMI

Course Information

Course Description
UW Student Conduct Code
Seminar Code of Conduct

Health Information

Required Health Disclosure Form
Vaccines and Recommended Medications
CDC Travel Vaccinations
Food, Beverage and Insect Precautions
Scuba Risk Letter

RMI site information

Guide to RMI
Restaurants in Majuro I
Restaurants in Majuro II
Marshall Islands Embassy
Emergency Contact Information
Mashallese words


What to Bring
Seattle Area Dive Stores

In the News

U Week Article on the Marshall Islands Exploration Seminar