From hands-on shark encounters to trawling for fish species in the
Mississippi Sound, Scott Aquarium educators are launching the academic
year this week with new learning experiences at The University of
Southern Mississippi facility here.
with marine habitats, creatures of the sea and shore and marine
technology are on the agenda for students and teachers through three
revamped programs: the Project Marine Discovery half-day field trips
to the Aquarium, two- and three-day student mini-camps and teacher
part of the new shark activity for the PMD field trip program, we
have illuminated shark egg cases in one of our small tanks in the
aquarium area," educator Jennifer Hale said. "That way
our students and visitors can see the living baby shark along with
its egg yolk sac. Right now each one looks like a tiny shark about
two inches long. Regular visitors will notice that the yolk sac
depletes as the shark grows."
When the sharks
hatch in about two weeks, more egg cases will go on display. Sharks
of the same species will also go on display and give visiting students
a chance to touch a living shark. The small species is the Indo-Pacific
bamboo cat shark, also known as the black-banded cat shark.
The world of
plankton and a coral reef room will also greet all grade levels
participating in the half-day programs. Lower grades will experience
fish adaptations through art as a fourth activity while older students
join educators in the aquarium area to get acquainted with Gulf
of Mexico species and the issues that affect the health of gulf
animals and environments.
have been enthusiastic about putting together new experiences for
student groups who visit the aquarium," Dr. Sharon H. Walker,
Scott Aquarium administrator, said. "They have done an excellent
job of making the 'wow' of ocean science accessible to all ages."
who want more than a half day for their students, registration is
now open for a variety of new student mini-camps in the fall and
still offering our popular beach and barrier island adventures,
and we have added new mini-camps on wetlands, birding and fisheries,"
The beach and
barrier island program takes students into the environment of a
local mainland beach and an offshore barrier island for firsthand
encounters with living sea creatures.
experience involves canoeing bayous, exploring pine savannas and
swamps, working in a freshwater pond ecosystem and collecting plants
typical of coastal wetlands. The birding mini-camp will include
field trips to the coast's natural preserves to study habitats and
adaptations of migratory species and birding basics, including identification.
mini-camp is an introduction to the real-world issues involved in
ensuring a sustainable fishery.
the experiences for students are trawling for samples of fish species
aboard a vessel in the Mississippi Sound and visiting a local aquaculture
operation," Walker said.
are open for groups of students ages 8 years and older. Teachers
may choose one of the four different mini-camps in either a two-
or three-day format.
are also on tap for teachers on a range of topics in October and
November. They offer the opportunity to earn continuing education
units and come with various levels of scholarship support by sponsoring
agencies. Upcoming workshops are Oct. 3, Ocean Exploration on cold
seeps and methane habitats; Oct. 28, Storm Water; Oct. 22-24, Aquatic
Nuisance Species; Oct. 29-31, Aquatic Nuisance Species in Wetlands;
Nov. 22-23, Marine Biotechnology.
are by preregistration. For more information or to register for
group or teacher programs, educators may contact the Scott Aquarium
at (228) 374-5550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The J.L. Scott
Marine Education Center and Aquarium is part of the Southern Miss
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.