The field station of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences is situated above one of the most beautiful beaches of the Island of Elba, Italy. Typical Mediterranean near-shore biotopes can be studied directly in the Bay of Fetovaia. During our courses we SCUBA dive or snorkel directly from the gently sloping sandy beach or from one of our boats to explore rocky bottoms, sandy bottoms, and seagrass meadows. For student research projects and small experiments we head to more distant spots and, with a special permit, also to the neighbouring Island of Pianosa within the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago .
Far more than ten thousand participants have attended our classes, field trips and excursions. HYDRA courses have become an integral part of the curricula of many high schools and universities. Many former students meanwhile return as teachers and professors with their own groups. By now the next generation of marine biologists have become lecturers at our institute and bring new life and contacts to our network. In collaboration with the University of Tübingen our courses are now integrated as official classes into the curricula for bachelor, master and diploma degree of bio- and geosciences. Thus all participants can obtain a graded certificate according to ECTS if they fulfill certain requirements.
Two classrooms, a wet lab bench with aquaria and two dry laboratories provide space for practical work with samples, rearing organisms, and further lab studies. Important tools in our teaching facilities include new ZEISS stereo and compound microscopes, photo-, video- and presentation equipment, and of course our experienced staff. The flexible organisation of the field station allows the modification of our facilities to quickly adapt for particular projects, events or research groups.
Combining snorkelling and SCUBA diving with marine biology training gives students, teachers and scientists the opportunity to observe the sea from within and to directly witness the complex relationships among its inhabitants. Our fully equipped dive center is registered with local authorities and focuses on the needs of the participants of our marine biological program. The snorkelling and SCUBA diving trips, as well as the SCUBA training are coordinated with the requirements of our learning and researching guests and integrated into the courses. Our diving team also takes care of additional sampling and underwater experiments for teaching purposes and for guest scientists.
Extensive use of underwater photography and videography for teaching purposes enables us to permanently record seasonal changes that are not obvious over short timescales. In our courses and for media productions such as information leaflets and television programs we make use out of our substantial photo and video archive. We also provide footage from the archive for external media productions.
For junior scientists on-site support with logistics and thorough supervision is very important. By now numerous bachelor, master and PhD theses have been conducted at the HYDRA Institute for Marine Sciences. International scientists complete their projects in close cooperation with us on Elba and the neighbouring islands. Our education program benefits from these contacts, and the new insights are transferred to our students during our lessons. Student course projects can be directly integrated into ongoing research projects.