Ask an Educator: Which Courses Are A Must Do at Sanibel Sea School

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Sanibel Sea School has a lengthy course catalogue with over 30 different marine science topics. With so much to choose from, it can be hard to decide what courses to take! To break it down, our Marine Science Educators offered up their favorites:

Dana Donkle’s choice is “Plankton – Adrift at Sea.” Plankton get their name from the Greek word “planktos,” meaning drifters. These are the plants and animals that, in many ways, support all life on the planet. “Many children don’t stop and think about the microscopic creatures in our oceans,” says Donkle. “This class gives students an opportunity to see them up close and personal.” In this course, children collect plankton in specialized nets and learn to identify them using a microscope. “The variety of plankton we can see is fascinating,” says Donkle, “students will never look at a drop of water quite the same way again.”

Brianna Machuga loves to take students back in time for “Calusa – Evidence of a Lost Culture.” Ages before European settlers arrived on our shores, the Calusa made their home here. “We try to imagine ourselves as part of this lost civilization. We use natural materials to create tools similar to what the Calusa used. I love seeing student’s imagination run wild while using what they find in nature to create” says Machuga. Children can also try their hand at using a seine net, which is modeled after Calusa fishing nets.

“Sea Turtles – One in 3,000 Chance of Survival ” is Joey Garofano’s favorite. Southern beaches provide excellent nesting habitats for these amazing animals. “I love this course because we get to act like sea turtles and simulate the nesting process on the beach” says Garofano. “Students leave the course with a new-found appreciation for how hard female turtles work to lay their eggs.” Sea Turtle class also focuses heavily on efforts to conserve these captivating creatures. The best time of year to take this course is summer when there’s a chance to see tracks from a nesting female or even a nest she left behind.

Course topics at Sanibel Sea School rotate monthly. Classes are designed as half-day experiences for students aged 6-13 years old. Visit to view the course calendar. Courses are offered at Sanibel Sea School, Sundial Beach Resort, and South Seas Island Resort. The full catalogue can be found on the “Sanibel Flagship Campus” page of our website.

Sanibel Sea School can also create customized two-hour sessions around any of these topics as a land-based private option. Land-Based Privates are open to all ages or for the whole family to learn together. Email to set up a private class.

All offerings give students an opportunity to touch, feel, and interact with the natural Southwest Florida environment. Whether it’s holding a squishy sea hare or trudging through mangrove mud, all experiences at Sanibel Sea School are sure to foster a deep connection to our ocean planet.

Part of the SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) Family, Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.