Explore the wonders of Long Island and Fishers Sound on one of our two fully equipped research vessels. 

Research Vessels

Up to 56 participants per trip.

Board one of our large research vessels and head out to sea for an unforgettable marine science experience!  Catch fish and plankton, participate in a seal or sea gull population study, pull up a mud grab, use oceanographic equipment to measure water quality, and more!  Each trip includes two highly trained Project Oceanology instructors who will teach your students how to use our sampling gear, facilitate data collection, help students make sense of what they are finding, and teach a lesson on the topic of your choice.  Visiting teachers may work with our marine educators to tailor a float plan, or select from one of our standard trips (following page).  
Research vessel programs typically come with access to curriculum materials on related topics, including a data analysis lab and opportunities for students to compare their results with our historical dataset.  Most research vessel programs can be supplemented with a wide range of laboratory activities, depending on the academic goals of the visiting group.

Selected Equipment list (if you don’t see it, ask!):


  • Otter trawl

  • Lobster and crab traps (can be deployed ahead)

  • Plankton nets (various)

  • Peterson grab

  • Rod and reel (various)

  • ROVs

  • Sediment core

  • Van Dorn bottle

  • Vacuum pumps

  • YSI meter with long cable (O2, salinity, temp)

  • Light meter with long cable

  • Secchi disk

  • Forel-Ule scale

  • Microscopes

  • Binoculars

  • pH meter

  • Turbidity meter

Field Kits

  • pH

  • CO2

  • Phosphates 

  • Ammonium

  • Nitrates

  • Chlorophyll

  • Total Organic Content

  • Fecal Coliform

Suggested Research Vessel Trips

INTRO TO OCEANOGRAPHY (2.5 hrs) - High School/Middle School/Upper Elementary

One of our most popular and versatile offerings! Students will literally and figuratively get their hands wet as they investigate the living and non-living components of Long Island Sound, while participating our flagship environmental monitoring program aboard the R/V Envirolab. Your students will study living organisms in the stern of the boat by hauling a trawl net, doing a plankton tow, pulling a lobster pot, and (on some trips) sorting through a mud grab. In the bow of the boat, they’ll learn how to use a wide range of oceanographic equipment as they investigate physical and chemical aspects of the estuary, including temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, and CO2. Suggested add-on: A Changing Sound (Data Analysis Lab)

THAMES RIVER TRANSECT (5 hrs) - High School

Students will use a wide range of oceanographic equipment and field chemistry kits to take vertical and longitudinal profiles of water quality along the entire length of the Thames River, a tidal estuary that flows fifteen miles from the junction of the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers down to Long Island Sound. The Thames River supports critical cultural, economic, and national security infrastructure, including revolutionary war-era fortifications, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Nation reservations, General Dynamics’s Electric Boat submarine shipyard, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the Port of New London, a U.S. Navy Submarine Base, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Students will use their data to study how the estuary varies physically from the mouth to the headwaters, and also to examine human impacts on the estuary. Suggested add-on: Data Analysis Lab

SEWAGE PLANT STUDAY OR POWER PLANT STUDY (2.5 hrs) - High School/Middle School

Students will explore human impacts on marine habitats using water chemistry. Sample nutrient levels and test for fecal coliform bacteria near a sewage treatment plant, or characterize the high temperature water plume in the discharge stream of a power plant. Suggested add-ons: Water Filtration Lab, Data Analysis Lab

SEAL POPULATION STUDY (2.5 hrs; SEASONAL) - High School/Middle School/Upper Elementary

Project Oceanology has been monitoring the seal population in Fishers Island Sound for over 15 years. Participants will census seals at several locations in Eastern Long Island Sound, and also collect data on seal activity levels. Discussion and analysis will focus on seal population distribution and trends in Long Island Sound, and on the behavioral ecology of seals. Suggested add-ons: Seal Thermoregulation Lab, Pinniped Power Lab, Data Analysis Lab.

GULL ROOKERY STUDY (2.5 hrs; SEASONAL) - High School/Middle School

Project Oceanology has been monitoring the nesting activity of gulls and other seabirds in Fishers Island Sound for more than 30 years. Participants will work in small teams to count nests, eggs, and chicks on a gull rookery. Discussion and analysis will focus on gull population trends, seabird conservation biology, and the ecological role of seabirds in Long Island Sound. Suggested add-ons:Marine Debris Shore Program, Data Analysis Lab


Students will use a compass and a nautical chart to take bearing fixes, find their location, and calculate their course, speed, and time. They will tour the wheelhouse of the vessel to learn about modern navigation, and learn some of the basics of navigation. This program may be combined with a tour of historically/nautically important sites, including Fort Griswold, Fort Trumbull, New London Harbor Light, and Ledge Light. Tours inside Ledge Light are sometimes possible courtesy of the Ledge Light Foundation.  

SPORTFISHING (2.5 hrs; SEASONAL) - High School/Middle School

Students will sample for large fish through sportfishing. Students and instructors will work together to identify and measure the fish captured. Discussion will focus on fish ecology and fishery management, species IDs, and form and function of fish. Suggested add-ons: All Caught Up Lab, Squid Dissection

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Marine Science Studies
Research Study Techniques
Marine Science Studies
Content Examinations
Hands-on Education
Marine Habitats Studies
Seal Population Field Study
Discovery and Examination

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1084 Shennecossett Rd. Groton, CT 06340