Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Ocean Matters the best summer marine biology program for me?

Ocean Matters favors depth over breadth. Rather than covering many topics of marine science, we focus on issues related to the specific local marine ecosystem you are studying. In the case of the trip to Hondurus, through daily dives and classroom instruction you will explore everything there is to know about the complex relationships and dynamics that structure a coral reef. We will be guided in our inquiry by questions such as:

  • How is it that the nutrient poor waters of the tropics gave rise to and can support such diversity and abundance of life as that found on the coral reef?
  • What combination of biological and physical factors create and sustain biodiversity?
  • How are human activities and local economies impacting the reef?
  • What are some creative solutions to maintaining local economies while also protecting the reef for the future?

Our staff of educators, biologists, conservationists, and scuba instructors ensure a multi-dimensional exploration of the challenges and opportunities facing the coral reef today. We also have formed unique local partnerships like with the Caymanian Department of the Environment and other local conservation efforts that ensure our student research project is relevant, underpins other efforts, and will be utilized for real life decisions made about maintaining the coral reef’s health.

What is the research project?

The goal of our study and daily dives on the reef is to develop a group research project executed on scuba that serves the needs of the local community. You will work with your classmates and the local Department of the Environment (DOE) to structure and execute your group project. 

What if I’ve never scuba dived before?


Scuba experience is not a pre-requisite for many of our programs. Our team of dive instructors will certify you through classroom and pool sessions during our first few days together. Our open water test will take place in the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean or Pacific. Learning together helps us create a sense of community, ensures consistent safety practices and a consistent level of scuba expertise. Even if you are already scuba certified you will be expected to pass a checkout dive led by our Director of Dive Education Laura McCallion. Throughout the course you will receive two PADI certifications: Open Water 1 and Advanced Open Water. You will need a moderate level of competency in the water and be able to swim 200 yards without stopping and tread water for ten minutes in order to pass your scuba certification requirements.

How might I benefit from coming to Ocean Matters?

Alumni of the program have identified the following benefits of the program. See our website for testimonials from alumni, which are sprinkled throughout our pages.

  • explore whether or not you want to pursue college study and a career in marine science
  • increase self esteem through meeting both physical and academic challenges
  • develop research skills
  • feel empowered by helping to solve a pressing environmental problem
  • develop team work skills including effective oral and written communication, appreciation for differences, appropriate expression of feelings, effective problem solving, and leadership skills.

What is a typical day like?


A typical morning would begin at 8 with breakfast, followed by a classroom session and research dive. After our dive, we typically have lunch, free time, and then have another classroom session. Some days we will also do a recreational dive in the afternoon before dinner. After dinner we might have a special guest lecture or do marine identifications or have free time. In the evening we have quiet study hall from 7-9 followed by free time until lights out at 11. This would be the typical schedule for six days (with afternoons sometimes flexible), followed by a seventh day of recreation—allowing a day off from both school work and scuba.

What non-academic activities will there be?

We will poll students on their favorite activities, but popular things to do in the past have been a windjammer cruise, picnics and swimming at a local sandy-beached cove, underwater photography, sunset watching, star gazing, beach volleyball and more. 

What are the academic requirements?

Students should know that the program is rigorous academically, in order to allow you to try on a college course on marine biology for size. We will fully support you in succeeding in every challenge you will encounter. You will learn to identify marine fauna and flora to species name and master complex concepts of biology and ecology presented through lecture, hands-on instruction in the water, and through interactive, fun activities on land. Every student will keep a dive journal, logging both their dives and the marine life they encounter in the water. This becomes a wonderful record and memento of your experience.

Still Have Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to call us at 617-304-4402. We are happy to answer any questions you have, no matter how small. Thank you for your interest in Ocean Matters! Together we can make a difference and save the seas that sustain us.

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Ocean Matters is 501(3)c nonprofit corporation and donations are tax-deductible as outlined by law.

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