Elective Spotlight: Marine Biology – The Paly Voice

From neon jellyfish to macabre anglerfish, the lure of the ocean’s unique flora and fauna appeals to many scientists. By taking marine biology, Palo Alto High School students can begin to understand the mysteries of the vast ocean that covers our planet.

Marine Biology is a second-year biology course offered to upperclassmen who have completed biology or biology with honors. According to teacher Michael Lupoli, the course focuses on the study of life in the oceans as well as units on human impact on marine ecosystems.

Marine biology students carefully handle shark fins and guts during a dissection February 17. Throughout the year, students can participate in several hands-on activities, including a shark dissection. “Everyone loves a good dissection,” said Professor Michael Lupoli. “It’s mean, rude, exciting, and one of those things that students will probably remember for the rest of their lives.” (Photo: Daniel Garepis-Holland)

The course offers hands-on activities including a shark dissection and a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Students watch documentaries and learn about topics ranging from ecology to evolution, all through the lens of marine biology.

“This class is really about developing an interest,” Lupoli said. “A lot of people, especially small children, fall in love with the ocean.”

According to Lupoli, students also deepen their understanding of the impact of climate change on the ocean, which includes learning about coral bleaching in coral reefs and ocean temperature changes.

“Another good reason to learn marine biology is if you have a strong interest in [ocean] conservation and climate change,” Lupoli said.

According to senior Anneke Salvadori, currently enrolled in the course, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course is being able to delve deeper into concepts related to marine biology.

“I really like the fact that we spend a lot of time learning in depth about things that are just interesting,” Salvadori said. “We spent a whole class learning about camouflage and how octopuses and squids are able to adapt.”

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