By: Gillian Birch
Those interested in knowing more about shorebirds, marine life, shelling, and the ocean will be thrilled by the superb programs and activities offered at Sanibel Sea School. There are half and full-day programs for children and teens age 6-13, field trips for families and groups, paddling excursions, week long summer and winter camps, and classes for adults.
All these courses have a similar purpose–to provide an in-depth learning experience about the local marine life and larger ocean. At the end of each program, students receive a Certificate of Mastery to accompany their amazing day of discovery.
Sanibel Sea School Hands-On Children’s Activities
Enrolling your child (age between 6 and 13) on one of these fun-filled educational courses will be a highlight of their stay. The student to teacher ratio does not exceed 10:1 and staff are professional educators assisted by interns and volunteers. Starting at an early age, children will never forget what they learn in these hands-on sessions. Who knows, it may be the start of a lifelong passion for marine life or even a career in marine biology.
There’s no time to be bored as the classes move from the classroom out onto the beach and into the water for practical discovery. In no time, children will be flipping rocks, netting tiny seahorses, identifying shells (and their inhabitants) or wading through the tangle of mangrove roots. There will be a break for lunch (bring your own brown bag or purchase a deli lunch) before the afternoon session for those who enroll on a full day of marine adventure.
Younger children (age 4-6) can join the Sea Squirts with a host of exciting classes and experiences geared to their young minds. Field trips will introduce them to some of their favorite sea creatures including dolphins and turtles. These programs are offered seasonally, during peak spring break times.
What to Wear for Sanibel Sea School
These classes are all about getting hands-on with the ocean, so wear a swimsuit under shorts and tops. Students will also need wading shoes that strap firmly onto the foot (not slip-ons, crocs, or flip-flops) for safety. Buried stingrays and spiky sea urchins and jellyfish are all part of life on the beach, so best dress accordingly.
Bring waterproof SPF sunblock (lotion or cream not a spray to avoid getting it on equipment or harming the environment), a hat, towel, and bug repellent are essential. A lightweight jacket or rash guard can protect from cool winds or too much sun and a bag for shells and treasures is a good idea. Bring a reusable water bottle (or you can borrow one) as single-use disposable plastic water bottles are not allowed on their campuses. Lesson one at Sanibel Sea School is never to purchase single-use water bottles, often end up in the ocean to be consumed by wildlife, or leach chemicals into the environment as they decompose.
Ocean Experiences for Adults
If you’ve ever wished you could go back to school and have fun learning again, Sanibel Sea School has classroom and field-based sessions for grown-ups too. Enjoy all the fun that youngsters have with a boat trip, casting a net and seeing what really lies beneath the waves.
In winter, adults can sign up for a variety of programs and workshops, which may include classroom sessions, lectures, and outdoor sessions. Past topics have included birds, river ecology, tides, mangroves, and more. Instructors include avid birders and professional naturalists with master’s degrees in environmental studies and wildlife conservation. Who better to teach you how to identify species, their cries, eating habits, and migratory patterns?
Free Beach Walks and Seminars at Sanibel Sea School
As a taster, why not check out the free community seminars offered on specific dates by Sanibel Sea School or join one of the free guided beach walks. Whether you have a lifelong interest in wildlife or are taking it up as a new hobby, Sanibel Sea School is a great place to start.