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Dr. Sakaguchi's Courses

BIOL 394A and B. Section HN. Caribbean Marine Biology

Field Trip to the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS)

Cr. 2. Repeatable. Prereq: Two courses in the biological sciences and by approval of application.
Offered: next field trip: Spring break 2016.

Course Instructors

Dr. Don Sakaguchi of the Dept of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) and Biology Program.
Dr. Jeanne Serb of the Dept of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (EEOB) and Biology Program.


Spring semester 2016. Field trip: March 12-19, 2016.

Informational Meetings

Online Application

coast pic

General Information: Marine Biology of the Caribbean

Spring Break, 2016: We are planning to take a group to Roatan Island for a week during Spring Break, 2016 to study the biology of the coral reefs found off the eastern coast of Honduras. Using the facilities of the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), the group will snorkel and dive on the incredibly beautiful and biological diverse reefs of the western Caribbean. Students learn to identify marine species and to perform underwater ecological surveys while enjoying a wonderful respite from the cold winds of Iowa at that time of the year.

For further information, either attend an informational session or send an E-mail to or


Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) at Anthony's Key Resort on Roatan - Bay Islands, Honduras. Roatan is approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) long, and less than 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) across at its widest point. Roatan is on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere (2nd largest in the world), stretching over 1,000 km from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula down to the Bay Islands of Honduras. RIMS is ideally located to study the marine environment on the northwest coast of Roatan where over 30 miles of fringing barrier reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and shoreline are home to an astonishing diversity of life. The primary objective of RIMS is preservation of Roatan's natural resources through education and research.

Course Number and Credits

BIOL 394 A (1 credit) and BIOL 394 B (1 credit). Students must enroll in both 394A and B.


Grading for BIOL 394A and 394B is S/F. Evaluation will be based upon student participation, completion of assignments, submission of a research paper on some aspect of marine biology and oral presentation of research topic.

scuba pic

Course Requirements

Students must possess an exceptionally strong desire to learn more about marine science and the marine environment. Students should have successfully completed at least one year of college-level biology. Students must be very comfortable in an aquatic environment (i.e. extensive marine activities: snorkeling and/or SCUBA diving). Students must be capable of participating in 2-3 open water activities over the course of 12 hrs. (each activity requiring 30-75 minutes). If you have questions about these course requirements please contact the course instructors.

Statement of the Purpose of the Program

Program is designed to provide students with a coral reef biology and aquatic animal and ecosystem health field experience. It will involve on-site lectures by local experts and extensive diving/snorkeling activities in a variety of marine habitats.

fish pic


All students will enroll in a one credit seminar (394A) for spring semester where they will receive trip orientation information and academic background for the field trip.


Curriculum planned will include lectures on coral reef ecology, marine invertebrates and fish, dolphins, health considerations while traveling abroad, Honduran culture and history, climatology of Central America and the Bay Islands. Program at RIMS will include seminars and labs in marine biology and ecology, coral reef biology, reef invertebrates and fishes, and marine mammals. One side trip to a local village on Roatan Island is planned for one afternoon.

Program Cost

Program Cost Description: The program cost consists of three parts: 1)Program Fee; 2) Other ISU Fees; and 3) Out of Pocket Personal Cost.

Estimated Program Fee: $3,360 (subject to change), which includes round trip airfare, accommodations and 3 meals daily at Anthony's Key Resort (AKR) (Sat. - Sat.), RIMS marine biology program, two dives/snorkeling daily, one night dive/snorkeling, RIMS lectures on coral reef biology and dolphins, educational dolphin platform sessions and dolphin snorkel, trip insurance, tips for baggage handling, housekeeping service, waiters, chefs, divemaster, and boat.

The program fee does not include: SCUBA class and materials, SCUBA certification, and rental of SCUBA/snorkeling gear, Study Abroad fees (indicated under Other ISU fees), Roatan departure tax, vaccinations, immunizations and preventive medicines, and other incidental expenses that you may incur.

Other ISU Fees - 1) $10 program application fee to the Ag Study Abroad office; 2) $105 study abroad administrative fee charged by Study Abroad Center in 3224 MU.

Out of Pocket Personal Cost - In addition to the above costs that are not included in the program fee, you will also have the following out of pocket personal costs:
Of course, there are also other personal costs, such as souvenirs, snacks, etc.

Program fee and the $105 administrative fee will be applied directly to your Ubill in spring 2016.


RIMS guests are housed in quad occupancy louvered wooden bungalows overlooking the lagoon reefs. Each has ceiling fan, 24-hour electricity, and a bathroom, including hot water shower; three ample meals a day are served (food has been described as excellent by past participants).

Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS) Services


BIO 394 Informational sheet - available as a pdf.
BIO 394A Syllabus (from spring 2014).
BIO 394B sample schedule at Roatan Institute for Marine Science (RIMS)(from spring 2014).
Challenge yourself with the Reef fish quiz. A great way to begin learning reef fish identification.

Helpful Links

National Oceanic and Atmosphereic Administration - Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS)
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
The Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
International Coral Reef Information Network (ICRIN)
Reef Check
Project AWARE Foundation
Information about Roatan Island
Anthony's Key Resort and Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences
CDC Home Travel Information Page
CDC Travel Information: Mexico and Central America
Information on the weather in Bay Islands

Please contact Dr. Sakaguchi ( to have your name placed on our email list.
*Please note - there is currently a US Department of State Travel Warning to Honduras. This program (BIO 394) will fly directly from the US to Roatan island and back. The group will NOT be visiting the mainland of Honduras.
*Please note also: This Program was approved by: the Iowa State University Education Abroad Committee (EAC) and the Study Abroad Risk Management Committee (SARMC).