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Marine Biology department participated in Calypseaux Expedition

September 28, 2017

Every fall, Nicholls’ graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty and staff of the Marine
and Environmental Biology department participate in the Annual Calypseaux Expedition.

The Calypseaux Expedition is a three-day trip in Cocodrie, LA hosted at Louisiana Universities
Marine Consortium.

This year, twenty graduate students attended as well as one undergraduate student; they were
accompanied by faculty and staff.

“A lot of the graduate students that participate in our program are not from around here,” Chris
Bonvillian, assistant professor and marine invert zoologist, said. “We are able to take these students to
our coast and give them the opportunity to be hands on with saving our coast. The undergrads we
choose to take are students who are doing really well in the program, have volunteered or have done
research.”

The first day, the participants traveled to various barrier islands and planted mangroves along
the islands to stop coastal erosion.

“My favorite part was being on the island and actually being able to plant the mangroves,” Alexa
Bellanger, marine and environmental biology graduate student from Nevada said. “Nobody else is
allowed on the islands because they are disappearing at such a fast rate and they don’t want any
destruction, so we get to go to these islands no one else can visit. We get to do the raw, actual saving of
the planet.”

The majority of the mangrove plants planted by participates on the island were grown on
Nicholls campus.

“We take seeds from the island and bring them back to Nicholls,” Bonvillian said. “We then use
the seeds to grow new mangrove plants here that we will take the following year. It’s a continuous cycle
that helps to keep the program growing.”

On the second day, the faculty and some graduate students briefly discussed the research being
done in the individual labs, informing other faculty members and students of the research occurring.

“Saturday provides an opportunity for the undergrads to see all the different research taking
place,” Bonvillian said. “Sometimes we as faculty do not always get to see what everyone else is working
on in their labs, so this is also an opportunity for all the faculty to see what is going on.”

One of the required courses in the Marine and Environmental program requires graduate
students to attend the Calypseaux Expedition. Graduate students who are not currently enrolled are
also invited to go.

“Being able to be the people actually out there saving the world makes me feel needed,”
Bellanger said. “This was my first year going and I will definitely be going back.”

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