Cool Conservation at the Tybee Marine Science Center
Though it might seem like a pretty long stretch for parents, the annual summer vacation doesn’t last very long for kids. Families spend the final weeks of the school year planning in giddy anticipation of the two-month long summer break – booking trips, registering for summer camps and checking local event calendars for kid-friendly fun. With all this forward-thinking, once school ends in May, the days pretty much fly by in June. Summer itineraries are chocked full of activity from the day school ends through the Fourth of July, and then things typically start to die down. All those dreaded ‘Back to School’ promotions start rearing their ugly heads throughout big-box stores. And that’s when the kids know, it’s time to stock up on school supplies and catch up on that summer reading list. The fun and freedom they’ve enjoyed thus far are coming to an end. Don’t let your child get the summer’s-almost-over blues now that we’ve reached the midsummer hump. The island has the perfect opportunity to keep the summer fun going while prepping your child’s mind for the learning environment.
The Tybee Marine Science Center is dedicated to preserving our coastal ecology through community-wide conservation efforts and interactive learning opportunities, all of which are loads of fun for inquisitive kids. Though the center is open year-round, the summer presents a special chance for youth to get out and engage with the natural environment. We’re in the heart of sea turtle nesting season with more than 20 nests discovered on Tybee coasts this summer to date, so it’s a prime time to bring the kids out and learn about our beautiful ecosystem and the precious cycle of life.
The science center hosts an impressive variety of engaging and educational programs and activities that are perfect for kids during this last stretch of summer. Designed for kids ages 6 – 11, the Coastal Kids Adventure Sea Camp is a week-long oceanic adventure. Each day, children learn about local marine life – to include sea turtles, whales, sharks, jellies and more – through exciting presentations and interactive activities, and then they put that knowledge to practical application through a culminating tour throughout Tybee marshes. The camp has dates through the end of July, and kids can attend for the full week or on a per module basis.
If your kid is all camped out, your family might enjoy participating in a fascinating hour-long program. The marine-science educator-guided Walks, Talks and Treks are designed to open up minds about our natural ecology in a host of diverse forums. These beach walks, marsh treks and talks are just $10 per person and they’re free for ages 4 and under. One particularly popular program is the Sift ‘n’ Seine. This truly hands-on learning opportunity involves a ten-foot net and teamwork. Best for children ages 9 and older, groups will pull the seine net through waist-deep water to discover Tybee’s aquatic inhabitants. After an interesting and informative examination, groups release the organisms to the sea and head to the beach to sift through wet sands in search of more marine life. It’s fun for the whole family that even older kids will love. And it totally beats playing video games inside until August.
Although the summer is all about fun in the sun, the heat can be exhausting, especially in July. Fortunately, the Tybee Island Marine Science Center has a cool, indoor facility that’s just as interesting and interactive as any of the outdoor tours and activities. The Coastal Georgia Gallery is a collaborative effort of the community, designed to serve as an information hub about the flora and fauna native to the coastal region. For an admission fee of just $5 – which is waived for those 4 years old and younger – visitors can view up to 300 creatures, who are visiting the gallery for a short stay before they’re released to the sea. In addition to the diverse selection of sea critters, the gallery boasts several daily mini-programs, exciting sea turtle feedings and the Touch Tank, where bold visitors can reach in and feel the wildlife. The Coastal Georgia Gallery is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm, so be sure to bring the family out for a visit soon. With so much to discover at the marine science center, there’s no reason for your child’s summer fun to end.
About the Author:
Chantel Baul is a Savannah native with a knack for writing and an ever-growing curiosity. She received her BA in English and Professional Communications from Armstrong State University, and when she’s not writing she’s serving the country as a US Army Reserve Officer. She’s an NPR nerd/foodie with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and fun.