If you thrive on hands-on research, CIEE’s Summer Intensive Research in Coral Reef Ecology program is for you! With your like-minded peers, you’ll investigate important questions in the field of coral reef ecology in Bonaire National Marine Park. Expert instructors will help you become a certified scientific diver with the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. And fascinating courses ensure you gain competencies in a wide range of coral reef research skills.
Study abroad in Kralendijk and you’ll:
- Participate in collaborative, small-group research in the Bonaire National Marine Park on a specific research topic in coral reef ecology
- Develop and use scuba, photography, and videography skills to document and understand the ecology of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
- Overnight trip to the neighboring island of Curacao to explore important cultural sites on the island
Scholarships & Grants
Scholarships & Grants
We want as many students as possible to benefit from studying abroad. That’s why CIEE awards more than $5 million every year – more than any other international educational organization – to make study abroad affordable.
Applicants to this program are eligible for the following scholarships and grants:
To be considered, submit the CIEE Scholarships & Grants application within your CIEE program application. Learn more at the Scholarships & Grants section of our website.
The CIEE Difference
The CIEE Difference
Make the greatest shore diving site – Bonaire National Marine Park – on earth your laboratory. With the CIEE Research Station located just one block from the sea, studying abroad in Bonaire allows you to apply internationally recognized field research methods through extensive, practical field experience in coral reef ecology. Each lecture topic is paired with a field trip – focused on discovery using scuba diving, snorkeling, or kayaking – or lab that directly relates to the topic like invasive species, reef fish behavior, plankton ecology, conservation, or coral disease. You might study the difference in feeding behavior in diseased and healthy surgeonfish, estimate the percentage of live coral cover on the reef slope, or compare the density of lionfish on shallow and deep reefs.
The entire island of Bonaire will be your classroom during this program. Take a trip to Lac Bay to study the area’s mangrove and sea grass habitats. Or visit the otherworldly Washington Slagbaai National Park during a daylong field trip. Go on a night dive to watch bioluminescent ostracods spawn. You’ll do all this and more while becoming a scientific diver, and conducting important coral reef research.
On this program, you can choose to volunteer for cleanup dives on Saturdays with the local dive shop. Or spend some of your free time helping Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire with maintenance of sea grass bed markers in Lac Bay. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll be giving back to the local community.
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
We want to make sure you get the most out of your experience when you study abroad with CIEE, which is why we offer the most inclusions in our fees.
The program fee includes:
- Tuition and housing
- Meals (lunch & dinner)
- Pre-departure advising and optional on-site airport meet and greet
- Full-time program leadership and support,
- Field trips and cultural activities
- CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits
Please note, program dates are subject to change. Please contact your CIEE Study Abroad Advisor before purchasing airfare. Click the
button to view more detailed information about dates and fees as well as estimated additional costs. Please talk with your University Study Abroad Advisor about additional fees that may be charged by your home institution when participating in a program abroad.
Summer 2017 (8 wks)
Program Date Notes
In addition to the items outlined below, the CIEE program fee includes an optional on-site airport meet and greet, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local excursions, field trips, national park entry fees, scientific equipment, local transportation, pre-departure advising, and a CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits.
Participation Confirmation *
Educational Costs **
This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.
Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $500 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.
** direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students
*** includes lunch and dinner daily, plus brunch on Sundays
Estimated Additional Costs
Meals not included in program fee
International Airfare *
The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.
* round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure
** (1) Dive Insurance, $65 (www.diversalertnetwork.org).
(2) Four Open Water Dives $200. Cost only applies to students that are not certified and need to complete the Open Water Certification.
(3) Dive gear purchased in the US $800
(4) Certifications $105 (5) Open Water referral $200. Cost only applies to students not certified
- Overall GPA 2.5
- 2 semesters of college-level biology required
- 1 Upper-level coursework in ecology/botany/ and/or zoology recommended
- Nationally recognized SCUBA certification or Open Water Referral
Total recommended credit is 10 semester / 15 quarter hours.
Ecology course contact hours are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course, and the Advanced SCUBA course is 1 semester / 1.5 quarter credits.
Participants enroll in the following courses: Coral Reef Ecology Research, Coral Reef Ecology, Advanced Scuba, and Marine Ecology Field Research Methods.
Non-certified students who choose to participate in the program must have an Open Water referral. An Open Water referral has two components: knowledge development and scuba skills development. Students must arrange, complete, and pay for the referral prior to arrival in Bonaire. The fee varies depending on the dive shop, so students should check with their local dive facility. Students must bring a completed Open Water referral form (proof of passing the course and completing the pool work) to Bonaire. CIEE staff will finalize the course by taking the non-certified student on the required four open-water certification dives and will collect the fee for this in Bonaire. (Please see the “Costs” section of our website for the fee amount.) When the students complete their certifications, they will receive a C-card certifying them as an open water diver. A C-card is a requirement to dive at most locations around the world.
Dive Physical and Dive Insurance
The CIEE Study Center in Bonaire is an organizational member of the American Academy of Underwater Scientists (AAUS – www.aaus.org). All dive activities adhere to a set of standards recognized as the standard of practice within the scientific diving community. Students will be diving extensively with CIEE, and in accordance with AAUS standards, and must complete a dive physical before arriving in Bonaire. The physical includes a medical history, complete physical exam, with emphasis on neurological and otological components, urinalysis, and any further tests deemed necessary by the physician. Students must also purchase an inexpensive, yet comprehensive, dive medical insurance policy from Divers Alert Network (DAN).
About the City
About The City
Located in the Dutch Caribbean, Bonaire is a desert island located 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Bonaire has a diverse topography with volcanic hills in the north and salt pans that lay atop ancient coral reefs in the south. Claimed by Spain in 1499, the Dutch took possession in 1633; subsequently creating a plantation island using African slave labor. Environmental awareness on the island has led to a ban of spear fishing, protection of sea turtles, and the development of the Bonaire National Marine Park. Bonaire’s most important asset is the coral reef that nearly surrounds the island and is so close to the water’s edge that divers can drive to a dive site and walk right in.
Meet The Staff
Meet The Staff
Rita Peachey, Ph.D., is the resident director of the CIEE program in Bonaire and the director of the CIEE Research Station in Bonaire. She received her bachelor's degree in biology and master's degree in zoology from the University of South Florida and her doctorate in marine sciences from the University of South Alabama. She teaches Independent Research and the Cultural and Environmental History of Bonaire. Dr. Peachey has conducted research in Hawaii, Australia, the United States Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana, the Pacific Northwest and several islands in the Caribbean. Her research interests include the effects of ultraviolet radiation on marine invertebrate larvae, environmental analysis, fish behavior, invertebrate taxonomy, and reproduction in lionfish.
For the tenth consecutive year, Bonaire was voted the Best Destination Overall and was voted the Best Shore Diving for the 19th consecutive year in the Atlantic/Caribbean region by “Scuba Diving Magazine.” The CIEE Study Center in Bonaire provides a program for Biology majors who want to learn about the biology, ecology, and conservation of coral reefs and associated ecosystems in a living classroom - the Bonaire National Marine Park. The island of Bonaire has distinguished itself as a world leader in marine conservation by placing the conservation of nature, above and below the water, at the forefront of its economic plan.
In the CIEE Tropical Marine Ecology and Conservation summer program in Bonaire students learn to identify the multitude of species of corals, fishes, and other organisms living on one of the best remaining Caribbean coral reefs. The ecological processes on the reef and important marine conservation approaches including those undertaken by the renowned Bonaire National Marine Park - one of the first places in the world to protect the waters surrounding an entire coral reef island are the focus of the program. Through classes and field trips to the coral reef, mangroves, and other tropical ecosystems you learn how science is used to protect and understand marine ecosystems and how land-based activities are linked to their fate.
Come to the southern Caribbean island of Bonaire to experience the island’s unique mix of European and Afro-Caribbean cultures and study the beauty and interconnectedness of coral reefs. It will be five weeks of summer classes that you will never forget.
-- Rita Peachey, Resident Director“”
Astrid de Jager
Astrid de Jager is the dive safety officer at CIEE and owns a dive training center called No Dive No Life. She came to Bonaire in 2009 as a dive master and has been working in dive industry ever since. She trains instructors for Scuba Diving International, Professional Association of Diving Instructors and International Association of Handicapped Divers. Astrid is also a Divers Alert Network Oxygen First Aid/Basic Life Support/First Aid instructor. At her training center she instructs students at all levels from beginning divers to instructors.
Where You'll Study
Where You'll Study
The CIEE Research Station is located one block from the sea. Downtown is a five-minute walk along the waterfront. The hospital, drug stores, restaurants, and shopping are located within 15 - minutes walking distance. Trade winds make the weather warm year-round. The CIEE Research Station is located on the leeward side of the island, so the sea is calm and the water is crystal clear providing excellent diving conditions nearly year around.
Housing & Meals
Housing & Meals
Housing and 14 meals a week are included in the study abroad program fee. Students are responsible for breakfasts. Students will be housed at the residence hall, or nearby house, with AC, hot and cold water, fully equipped kitchen, dining area, living room, and TV/lounge area. The Residence Hall has laundry facilities, rinse tanks, and dive lockers for storing scuba gear. The CIEE Laboratory Building is located across the street from the Residence Hall and has two lecture rooms, a large laboratory, and faculty offices. Residences and the laboratory building have wireless Internet and telephones.
You'll begin your study abroad experience in Bonaire even before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online predeparture orientation. The rCIEE Bonaire staff meets with students online and shares information about the program and site, highlighting issues that alumni have said are important, and giving you time to ask questions. The online orientation allows you to connect with others in the group, reflect on what you want to get out of the program, and learn what others in the group would like to accomplish. CIEE’s aim for the predeparture orientation is simple: to help you understand more about the program and identify your goals.
A mandatory orientation session conducted at the beginning of the program introduces you to the country, culture, academic program, staff, and program logistics. Course syllabi, readings, and other expectations are presented. Ongoing support is provided on an individual and group basis by CIEE staff throughout the program.
You are encouraged to bring a wireless-enabled laptop. You'll have access to wireless Internet at the resident hall as well as the CIEE lecture/laboratory building. There are also a few desktop computers for student use in both buildings.
In order to explore the island’s diverse ecosystems firsthand, the program incorporates field trips to a number of different tropical ecosystems around the island that require diving, kayaking, or snorkeling. Field trips include a trip to Washington Slagbaii National Park, a boat dive on Klein Bonaire, day and night shore dives, snorkeling in Lac Bay, nearshore plankton collection by boat, and kayaking in the mangroves. In addition, you'll have free time to explore Bonaire on your own.
The CIEE Summer Intensive Research in Coral Reef Ecology study abroad program in Bonaire offers intensive field courses that integrate lectures, field experience, student group work, and readings. Emphasis is placed on field observations of ecological processes on the coral reef and in associated ecosystems, and the application of science to the conservation of natural resources.
Rigorous courses with a scientific focus are offered for CIEE students only. Classes are small and consist of classroom-based academics combined with extensive experiential components (field study, lab work, and observation) and broad practical field experience in coral reef ecology. Professors prepare students in the classroom and accompany them on field trips. Given the number of dives and field trips required for this course, students should expect an intense, yet rewarding program.
Nature of Classes
Participants take classes with other CIEE study abroad students only.
Student learning is assessed using quizzes, written exams, laboratory reports, a detailed field notebook, presentations, and participation. Letter grades of A through F are given with pluses and minuses.
Language of Instruction
All courses are taught by CIEE faculty and staff.
Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be canceled due to insufficient enrollment.
CIEE Study Center Syllabi
To view the most recent syllabi for courses taught by CIEE at our Study Centers, visit our syllabi site.
ECOL 3003 BONU
Coral Reef Ecology
Students will focus on learning the ecological principles important to the study of coral reef ecology. An understanding of the distribution and formation of reefs will provide the context for exploration of the ecology of coral reefs. Ecological principles such as competition, diversity, symbiosis, disturbance, adaptation, reproduction, and trophic relationships of coral reef organisms are explored in the classroom and the coral reef ecosystems. Most lectures are paired with a dive, snorkel or kayak excursion to observe, collect data and analyze each focal principle. Contact hours: 45. Credit: 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.
ECOL 3007 BONU
Coral Reef Ecology Research
Students conduct research on a coral reef ecology project under the direct supervision of a faculty advisor. The topic will be provided by the faculty advisor and students will work independently and in small groups (4 students per group) on reviewing the literature, creating a bibliography, defining research methods, sampling, analysis of data, presentation of research findings in a public setting and writing a manuscript according to peer-reviewed journal formatting requirements. Students learn the basic elements of the research process: defining a topic, formulating a research question, seeking answers using the appropriate field and laboratory research methods, verbalizing research results, presenting scientific research in a public forum, and writing a scientific manuscript. Contact hours: 45. Credit: 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.
MARI 3004 BONU
Students expand their understanding of scuba diving beyond the recreational level in order to fully participate in the scientific dive program in Bonaire. CIEE is an institutional member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) and adheres to the safety program sanctioned by AAUS. Students focus on the technical aspects of diving; developing excellent diving skills and learning to respond to medical emergencies in and out of the water. By completing the course and the co-requisite course Marine Ecology Field Research Methods; students gain a certification as an AAUS Scientific Diver. Students receive training for certifications in open water diving, advanced adventure diving, rescue diving and dive emergency management provider. Contact hours: 15. Credit: 1 semester / 1.5 quarter hours.
MARI 3005 BONU
Marine Ecology Field Research Methods
Students apply internationally recognized field research methods in an inquiry-driven approach to understanding tropical marine ecosystems. The course focuses on training students in field observation, data collection, record keeping, and data analysis in order to study coral reef, seagrass and mangrove communities. During the course, students conduct fieldwork using SCUBA in the Bonaire National Marine Park, a protected area. Equipment commonly used includes: compasses, transect lines, quadrats, underwater video cameras, fish survey T-bars, writing slates, benthic corers, light meters and secchi disks. Students will become familiar with photographic equipment, underwater housings, and image analysis software. In addition to this, students learn to organize, test, and evaluate data sets and present their findings. While the course introduces students to research diving knowledge and techniques with broad applications, it focuses on using scuba research techniques to better understand coral reefs. Contact hours: 45. Credit: 3 semester / 4.5 quarter hours.