students in the mudd collecting a nitrogen sample

Oceans-17: Age 17*

Research and Service in Modern Marine Science

Must have completed 10th grade and be 17 by June 1st. 18 year old students are welcome in this program but must be going into 12th grade. Students who have completed the OCEANS or Ocean CHEMystery program and are not yet 17 may apply.

Prerequisite: (1) Students must have open water dive certification from a nationally recognized organization to attend Oceans-17* (2) Students must obtain Divers Alert Network (DAN) insurance or equivalent diving coverage prior to program start date (3) Ability to pass PADI swim test, including 10 minute float or tread in deep water and un-timed 200 meter/yard continuous surface swim.

Oceans-17 serves as the capstone program for MarineQuest. An intensive three-week long program for highly motivated teen marine scientists-in-training, Oceans-17 provides opportunities to conduct relevant lab and field based research alongside of UNCW marine science faculty, staff and graduate students. By utilizing equipment and technology to support their research efforts, students develop knowledge and skills that can enhance their future college experience. Students will interpret the data they collect and present their findings as part of a research symposium held on the final day of the program. In addition to their research activities, Oceans-17 students will participate in a community service project that benefits a local marine habitat. This service will help emphasize the connection between marine science research and environmental stewardship.

Please note that Oceans-17 is not all work! Students will earn their PADI Advanced Open Water Certification (prerequisite: must hold PADI Open Water Certification or equivalent prior to start of program) and learn how to apply their diving skills as part of an underwater research project. And there will be opportunities to enjoy the beach, boogie board, kayak, snorkel, surf, and make friends. Students will also have time to explore the UNCW campus and meet with our admissions staff as part of this pre-freshman experience designed to help them succeed in the ultra-competitive field of marine science.

Field excursions include:

  • Ocean based research cruise; scuba diving trips (weather dependent) to offshore artificial reef shipwrecks; kayak trip and surf lesson; field trips to beaches, marshes, fouling station, rocky intertidal zone, marine technology facility, UNCW research labs, UNCW's Center for Marine Science, and other marine facilities.

Highlights include:

  • Complete a research project and learn how to put a professional presentation together; complete a community service project that benefits the marine environment; interact with UNCW research scientists and professional divers; opportunities to earn your advanced open water diver certification (see session notes below). Enjoy six dives safely with an amazing 1:4 student to Dive Instructor/Master ratio providing personal attention and training tips; examine antifouling agents and their response to the environment; explore the field of marine biotechnology; participate in fish community studies; analyze phytoplankton for a NOAA sponsored program.

The experience Oceans-17 gave me changed my life. Thanks to the program I knew with confidence that I wanted to attend college to study marine biology. Oceans-17 provided me with phenomenal opportunities that I could not have received anywhere else. - Madison L, camper

Program Dates and Tuition

Day of Week:

Sunday - Friday (three-week program)


Friday pick up/final presentation at 1:00 p.m.

Staff / Student Ratio:

SCUBA Ratio: 1:4
Location: UNCW Campus
Summer 2018 Dates: TBD

Residential Tuition:


* Tuition includes a PADI advanced open water dive certification and scuba equipment, wetsuit rental fees plus additional dives.

** Students will be responsible for bringing mask, snorkel and fins (may be purchased at program for a discounted rate through local dive shop)

Gender: Co-ed

Earning your Open Water Dive Certification

If you do not have an open water SCUBA certification you must earn this prior to attending Oceans-17. In order to be accepted into Oceans-17 you must have a plan to earn the certification. If you do not earn your certification, there will be no special considerations or refunds.

  • On your own, prior to the start of Oceans-17. If you plan to earn your certification prior to attending Oceans-17, you must tell MarineQuest the date and organization that is certifying you prior to May 1st.
  • During a Dive Hawks program prior to the session of Oceans-17.
  • During the intensive 3 day PADI Open Water Certification course. The course is a combination of eLearning, classroom, pool, and open water components. Before arriving in Wilmington, students must complete an eLearning class. Upon arrival the group will jump right in to practice skills in the pool and open water!

3 Day Open Water Certification Course

Must be registered for Oceans-17

Day of Week:

Thursday - Sunday

Staff / Student Ratio:

SCUBA Ratio: 1:4
Location: UNCW Campus
Summer 2018 Dates:


Residential Tuition:


** Students will be responsible for bringing mask, snorkel and fins (may be purchased at program for a discounted rate through local dive shop)

Gender: Co-ed

Program Application & Registration

You must register by 5:00 p.m. the Wednesday before your program is to begin.

Before completing your application, please review the Cancellation Policy | PDF and the expected MarineQuest Student Code of Conduct | PDF.

To complete the teacher recommendation, please have your teacher click here to submit their recommendation.

Please Note: A completed application does not register you for your program. All applications will first be reviewed by the MarineQuest Staff and upon acceptance, you will receive an e-mail explaining the next step in the registration process.

Still have questions? Check out our FAQ page.
• Note that prices, content, dates, and times are subject to change without notice.
• Questions? Call 910.962.2640 or send an e-mail to
• Website and program content © UNCW MarineQuest