Florida Marine Ecology Expedition (June 17-27, 2019): a joint project of Ocean Matters & the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Join us for our Florida Marine Ecology Expedition that combines five days at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the west coast of Florida with five days on the east coast in Key Largo working with the Coral Restoration Foundation. Earn PADI scuba certification; do a coral restoration project on scuba: tag turtles: and learn about manatee and dolphin conservation from top researchers in the field and more (June 17-27, 2019.) Learn about the many challenges facing the marine environment and become empowered to do something about it. 

During the expedition we will work with media professionals to create a short, ocean advocacy film so that you can engage others in solutions, too. Participants in this program will become part of the Ocean Matters Team Ocean Teen Leader (TOTL) project.

It was a dream come true to view the ocean deep with in and get a one on one experience. The underwater world changes your life and how you view the life on land. Ocean Matters was a great program to meet life long friends, who share this experience and the love for the ocean, as much as you do. You even fall more in love with the sea that you wish you could never leave. —Jazmyn Gentry (Illinois), on right in photo, an Ocean Matters alumna of the Oahu, Hawaii projectWhat Do We Study?

 

What Do We Study?

  • PADI scuba certification
  • Coral reef restoration on scuba
  • Manatee conservation and encounter at the Crystal River on snorkel
  • Dolphin identification
  • Sea bird and grassland ecology
  • Everglades ecology
  • Behind-the-scenes engagement with CMA’s rescue, rehabilitation and release program, including meeting the veterinarian staff, a surgical suite tour, and information about clinical research
  • An overnight at the Florida Sea Aquarium

Manatee in fresh water spring; Florida. Photo by Brian Skerry. Used with permission.

We are partnering with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) for this project. CMA is a world-class institution in Clearwater, Florida whose mission is to preserve the environment while inspiring the human spirit through leadership in the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of marine life; environmental education; research; and conservation. CMA is the inspiration behind the blockbuster film “A Dolphin’s Tale” that tells the true story of the rescue and rehabilitation of an injured dolphin named Winter, who was fitted with a prosthetic after losing her tail in an entanglement with a crab pot. The CMA is now a pilgrimage for wounded warriors and children with disabilities. A leader in turtle and manatee rehabilitation, their work is on the forefront of issues impacting Florida’s marine ecosystem.Coral reefs globally are threatened by warming waters, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, overfishing and other chronic stressors. We have lost 50% of our coral reefs in the past twenty years, with more loss predicted as waters continue to warm. Coral reef restoration is a relatively new science where substrates (surfaces) are lain and coral fragments or coral colonies from land-based nurseries are attached in order to replace coral that has bleached or died. Students will be doing this important service work on scuba.

Dr. James (Buddy) Powell, Executive Director of the CMA Research Institute and a world-renowned manatee and turtle researcher working jointly with CMA and Mote Marine Lab is our supervising scientist for this project.

What is the West Coast Component?

For the first five days of the expedition at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium scientists and marine educators will engage you in hands-on inquiry and activities related to understanding the marine ecosystem. Turtle tagging, dolphin identification and manatee conservation will be featured, along with other important components of understanding the ecosystem such as sea birds and grasslands. Our director of dive education Laura McCallion and her staff will complete the pool training component towards PADI scuba certification.

What is the East Cost Component?

After five days at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, students will travel by bus to the east coast for an additional five days in Key Largo, stopping to learn more about the Everglades and its ecology on the way. In Key Largo, Director of Dive Education Laura McCallion and her staff will be focused on Open Water training for PADI scuba certification. The Coral Restoration Foundation will provide training both on coral reef ecology and coral restoration techniques to prepare students to participate on a coral restoration project on scuba on the coral reef.

What is Coral Reef Restoration?

A CRF coral nursery in Key Largo, Florida.

Coral reefs globally are threatened by warming waters, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, overfishing and other chronic stressors. We have lost 50% of our coral reefs in the past twenty years, with more loss predicted as waters continue to warm. Coral reef restoration is a relatively new science where substrates (surfaces) are lain and coral fragments or coral colonies from land-based nurseries are attached in order to replace coral that has bleached or died. Students will be doing this important service work on scuba.

To learn more about the Coral Restoration Foundation’s important work in the Florida Keys see this report from the Nature Conservancy.

What Is the Scuba Instruction and Certification Component?

Students need no prior experience to receive PADI open water scuba certification as part of this program, but must be able to swim 200 yards comfortably and tread water for 10 minutes. All scuba instruction will be supervised by our director of dive education Laura McCallion, who has the highest level of professional certification available. She is a PADI Course Director and has decades of teaching scuba, as well as a special talent for working with young people. Laura will be joined by Peter Lewandowski, assistant director of dive education; dive master Ari Luizzi and Ocean Matters director Cassandra Bergeron, providing dive supervision and support.  For more information see our scuba program page. .

For additional information about this program, please email info@oceanmatters.org or call Laura McCallion, our director of dive education and the leader for this trip at 508-320-5087.

What Does it Cost?

This 10-day program is $3,500.00 including all scuba equipment and certification, instruction, food, lodging and materials. You are required to bring your own mask, snorkel and fins. Airfare is not included, but can be planned through our travel agent Atlas travel and should be planned to arrive at Tampa, Florida and depart from Miami, Fl.

To Apply

Students must have the following prerequisites:
– be a high school student (rising freshman through graduating senior)
– be able to swim 200 yards comfortable and tread water for 10 minutes

See the apply tab on our website to apply online to this program. Deadline for application has been extended to May 1, 2019, with acceptances offered upon submission.

 

We are currently raising money to support this project. Ocean Matters is 501(3)c nonprofit corporation and donations are tax-deductible as outlined by law.

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