Earth Watch: Tampa Bay Watch


“It was fun, like really fun. It's better than sitting at a desk,” said 6th Grader Sam Heber.

It’s a special day for 6th graders at Stewart Elementary in Tampa. They put down their textbooks to explore the Tampa Bay Estuary.

Tampa Bay Watch uses some of its public funding and private donations to host school kids.

“It's an opportunity for them to come out to our program with no cost to the school,” said Katie Mastenbrook Director of Education for Tampa Bay Watch.

“We saw dolphins and I saw some fish in the water,” said Heber.

The estuary is a unique and important environment.

“If we didn't have a habitat like this, our oceans wouldn't be as healthy as they are.  Eighty percent of our marine life spends a portion of their life in the estuary. Our tourism industry really relies on it.  We don't want poor water quality, we don't want dying animal life ,” Mastenbrook said.

“They threw out a net when we were on a boat,” said 6th Grader Demaurion Neal.

Students receive a hands-on learning experience about the creatures in the water.

“They get their feet wet, they get their hands dirty,” explained Mastenbrook.

“We got to see different types of algae, grass and birds,” said Neal.

“We saw a spider crab. I like his claws and his mouth,” said Heber.

The field trip got students thinking about our environment and why we need to protect it.

“There are lots of animals in the ocean that need this clean water and food in the water,” explained Neal.

“Once they learn something and they're interested in it, they are more likely to spread it around,”  said Mastenbrook.

“I can make sure the ocean is not polluted, “ said Neal.

“If we don't it won't be beautiful anymore and the animals won't be able to survive,”  said Heber.

Tampa Bay Watch plans to expand their popular summer camp program. They offer field trips throughout the year too.

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