If you’ve been following the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation recently, you know that marine science and conservation education has risen to the top of the list. Educating kids — and teachers — on the importance of ocean conservation is a critical step in saving our reefs, our fish, our oceans and our planet.
That’s why the GHOF has developed a new collaboration with MarineLab in Key Largo, Florida. Since 1985, MarineLab has been teaching more than 4,000 students and teachers per year with its 3-to-5-day, hands-on lab and in-water programs. GHOF is complementing the existing MarineLab experience with a 150-hour, state-approved ocean education curriculum, ranging from virtual programs to workbooks and lesson plans. And all of this is free to teachers.
One of GHOF/MarineLab’s unique initiatives is inviting K-12 teachers from around the Caribbean to attend their weeklong course under a scholarship program partly funded by the GHOF. Spreading the good word of marine conservation across Florida and the rest of the country is underway, but reaching out to teachers from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Virgin Islands and other island nations is critical in getting the message to locations that are surrounded by water. These regions are feeling the most pain brought on by ocean acidification, coral bleaching, overfishing and other marine conservation issues.
Located just one hour south of Miami on Largo Sound within the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, MarineLab is on the doorstep of some of the most pristine water and coral reefs in the Florida Keys. The MarineLab campus houses up to 100 students and teachers, with classrooms and laboratories on site for easy learning. Five vessels are available for immediate snorkeling access, along with a floating conference center that includes two classrooms and campus-wide, high-speed internet access.
Also on site is the world’s only underwater hotel, the Jules’ Undersea Lodge, operated by Key Largo Undersea Park. The habitat, which is only reachable by scuba, was originally known as the La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater laboratory used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico.
In the early ’70s, Ian Koblick, who runs MarineLab, developed and operated La Chalupa research laboratory, which at the time was the largest and most technologically advanced underwater habitat of its kind. Koblick, who has continued his work as a pioneer in developing advanced undersea programs for ocean science and education, is the co-author of the book Living and Working in the Sea, and he is considered one of the foremost authorities on undersea habitation.
The partnership between Guy Harvey, Ian Koblick and MarineLab will be key in educating students and teachers in the importance of marine science and conservation.