Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques (QUEST)

QUEST Student with quadrat

QUEST is a field course offered through the University of Hawai`i at Hilo that focuses on ecological monitoring of coral reefs using SCUBA. The course takes place during the last two weeks of May every year. Students will work from Halau Maluhia at Ke`ei, south of Kealakekua Bay, for the duration of the course. Students involved in QUEST must be authorized as a University of Hawai`i Diver-in-Training (see application instructions), valid throughout QUEST. SCUBA tanks and sampling equipment will be provided, but students will need to provide their own basic equipment including dive and camping gear. QUEST is composed of two different courses, QUEST (MARE 264) and Advanced QUEST (MARE 364).

To apply to the QUEST Field Program, click here.


QUEST 264 diver

Students who enroll in QUEST will learn commonly utilized nearshore underwater ecological surveying techniques and apply them in the field using SCUBA as a research tool. Students will review the identification of common Hawaiian reef invertebrates, fishes, and seaweeds. They will be introduced to a variety of surveying techniques, including: fish counts, surveying of benthic invertebrates, photographic sampling, rugosity, coral health, and more. Additional lectures will cover basics in experimental design, statistical analysis, data reduction and graphic representation. Students will utilizing SCUBA to survey the coral reefs near Kealakekua Bay, Hawai`i. The collected data will be reduced, analyzed, and presented in both an oral and written report. This class affords students a unique opportunity to learn and apply diving research techniques in a truly beautiful environment.

Advanced QUEST (MARE 364)

QUEST 364 leader

Students who have completed QUEST (MARE 264) with at least a "B" grade may apply for admission to Advanced QUEST (MARE 364). Applicants who are accepted will be assigned as dive team leaders for the QUEST course. In this leadership role, Advanced QUEST students will work with a faculty mentor to monitor the safe diving practice of each member of their team. The Advanced QUEST student will supervise the dive team's collection of data in the field, as well as its reduction and analysis, and will anchor the team's written and oral presentations. Team leaders will also assist in training students in the identification of marine organisms.

Important Dates for QUEST 2024

  • - For Species ID Workshop dates, see the MOP Event Calendar.
  • - QUEST Application due on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20 at 12PM HST
  • - QUEST (MARE 264): Monday, May 13 to Saturday, May 25
  • - Advanced QUEST (MARE 364): Sunday, May 12 to Saturday, May 25

How much does QUEST cost?

Three different components make up the cost of QUEST: tuition, a lab fee, and a Student Life Center Fee.

NOTE: Tuition costs change annually. The rates below are for Summer 2024.

Tuition for Residents: $306 per credit x 3 credits = $918
Tuition for WUE / Pacific Islander: $373.50 per credit x 3 credits = $1120.50
Tuition for Non-residents: $441 per credit x 3 credits = $1323

Lab fee for MARE 264: $700
Lab fee for MARE 364: $200

Student Life Center Fee: $35

Scholarships are available, and information can be found on the application page.