From the coastal shores of Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Center (MSC) in Nahant, Mass., high school stu­dents this summer found them­selves con­tributing to a mas­sive global mis­sion to assess ocean life.

The expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity for the young biol­o­gists was part of the center’s Coastal Ocean Sci­ence Academy, a two-​​week summer pro­gram run each summer that intro­duces high school stu­dents to marine sci­ence. The Marine Sci­ence Center is a first-​​class teaching lab­o­ra­tory where fac­ulty mem­bers and North­eastern stu­dents can pursue use-​​inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research on topics ranging from the sonar mon­i­toring of fish pop­u­la­tions, to the secu­rity appli­ca­tions of robotic lob­sters and lampreys.

The sur­veys were con­ducted through the “Summer Sci­ence in New Eng­land” pro­gram, which is funded by the National Oceano­graphic and Atmos­pheric Admin­is­tra­tion and coor­di­nated by the New Eng­land Aquarium. The academy joined nine other high school summer pro­grams in con­ducting the marine life surveys.

The results of the stu­dents’ nearshore survey—which was con­ducted under the direc­tion of assis­tant pro­fessor of biology Matt Bracken—will be included in the Census of Marine Life, an inter­na­tional ini­tia­tive to assess and under­stand ocean life. The stu­dents’ work will be cat­a­loged along with more than 30 mil­lion records already com­piled over the last 10 years by sci­en­tists from around the world.

It’s sig­nif­i­cant that high school stu­dents are con­tributing to an inter­na­tional effort,” said Carole McCauley, out­reach pro­gram coor­di­nator at the Marine Sci­ence Center.

During the two-​​week pro­gram, stu­dents also seine fished along the shore and com­pared plankton levels in deep water and sur­face envi­ron­ments on an oceanog­raphy cruise in Boston Harbor.

The academy con­cluded with stu­dents pre­senting research projects, including an analysis of fecal col­iform levels in Boston Harbor and a look at the diver­sity of marine life at dif­ferent ele­va­tions along the shore’s gradient.

McCauley noted, “We’re exposing stu­dents to dif­ferent topics, with an eye on having them ask ques­tions and find out how sci­en­tists answer them. They are chal­lenged to think about the inter­re­la­tions of marine life.”