Students from Archibald Rutledge Academy in McClellanville recently enhanced their knowledge of marine resources by participating in the Carolina Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Carolina Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program allows teachers to choose from an array of land-based and marine-based programs to specifically meet the interests of their students. Land programs such as phytoplankton studies, marine geology, marine animal dissections, salt marsh field studies, and marine-based programs aboard the catamaran Educational Vessel (E/V) Discovery, reach hundreds of teachers and students from a variety of backgrounds and locations.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Vernon, Carolina Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program coordinator for the DNR’s Marine Resources Division at (843) 953-9359, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The goal of the marine education program is to generate awareness among the students of the importance and fragility of the marine ecosystem. DNR’s Kattie McMillan said, “We hope that the students will take away from our program a greater understanding and appreciation of the role they play in protecting the marine environment.”
Archibald Rutledge Academy students participated in a squid dissection land program and ventured aboard the E/V Discovery for an educational component in the Charleston Harbor. Becky Sellers, marine biology teacher with Archibald Rutledge said: “The squid dissection was great. The students not only enjoyed the hands-on activity, but they learned a lot about their physical anatomy too.” Teachers said the structured curriculum the students were offered through the Carolina Coastal Discovery Program enhanced their own classroom lessons and activities, strengthening students’ knowledge of the marine environment.
Once aboard the E/V Discovery, students were instructed on saltwater fishing laws and techniques, discovered the importance of nesting islands for migratory birds, learned to identify numerous marine species gathered through a short trawl, and tested the salinity level of the brackish water. Students were also taught that in addition to serving as an important nursery ground for numerous marine species, the salt marsh acts as a buffer from wind and rain for the mainland, absorbs excess water, and purifies the water by acting as a filter.
Funding for the Carolina Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program is made possible by the South Carolina Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Program. Anglers who purchase an annual saltwater recreational fishing license support activities such as the stocking of important fish species in the wild, the restoration of the state’s shellfish resources, improving fishing opportunities through construction and maintenance of artificial reefs, furthering research initiatives, promoting a strong conservation ethic through the distribution of information, and conducting educational programs for students, teachers, and the general public.