With 60 distinct habitats and more than 5,000 animals, the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina, “wows” students with its immersive exhibits.
“Students can follow the Santee watershed on a journey through South Carolina from the mountains to the sea,” said Roualeyn de Haas, senior group sales manager at South Carolina Aquarium. “The aquarium focuses on species found in South Carolina. With touch tanks and interactive exhibits, there is plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning.”
Tours of the aquarium are self-guided, with on-site interpreters promoting discussion and answering questions throughout.
In “The Shallows,” students can feel cownose rays and stingrays at their fingertips. The first of its kind in the region, the 20,000-gallon touch tank gives groups the opportunity to feed and feel rays.
The 385,0000-gallon Great Ocean Tank is impossible to miss, as it’s the deepest tank in North America. The tank is home to more than 700 animals, including sharks and the 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle named Caretta. Divers interact with visitors and answer questions during daily dive shows.
“Students always love the daily interactive dive shows, learning about life in the Great Ocean Tank and many of its 550-plus residents,” de Haas said.
Students also can visit Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery, which serves as both a hospital and a guest experience.
“The Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery is a student favorite, with interactive displays and augmented reality stations,” de Haas said. “This area allows students to experience the journey of our endangered sea turtle patients, from rescue to recovery to release, and to walk in the shoes of sea turtle care center staff.”
Extensive online curriculum materials are available for educators. Teachers are encouraged to complete pre- and post-visit activities to make the most of their visit and help bring topics to life.
“The Aquarium hopes to cultivate every student into the next generation of conservationists,” de Haas said. “With our tagline ‘protect what you love,’ we hope to show students their role, impact and responsibilities in our environment, and help them connect with water, wildlife and wild places.”
For more information, call 843-579-8652 or visit scaquarium.org.