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Sanibel Programs


Learn about ocean activities for kids, adults, and families at our Sanibel campus.

 

 

 

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Sanibel Programs


Learn about ocean activities for kids, adults, and families at our Sanibel campus.

 

 

 

Marine Conservation Through Experiential Education

There's nothing better than a day of discovery on the ocean. Come get your feet wet with us as we explore Sanibel's unique marine habitats. Maybe we'll find a seahorse in the seagrass, spot a manatee or two, or discover some tiny creatures that live between the grains of sand. You're sure to leave Sanibel Sea School with ocean memories that will last a lifetime!


Looking for programs at Sundial?

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Courses


Our courses for children include fun activities like snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and fishing.

 

 

Courses


Our courses for children include fun activities like snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and fishing.

 

 

Sanibel Courses (ages 6 – 13)

Come and enjoy the best part of your vacation and perhaps one of the best experiences you've ever had!

Typically, 20 students per day are enrolled in our courses. On rare occasions, we add resources to accommodate a maximum of 30 students. Students are divided into groups of approximately 10 students per adult lead educator. Interns and volunteers assist educators in the classroom and in the field.

Each day, two subjects of study are offered. The first is covered in the morning, and the second in the afternoon following lunch. At the end of each course, every student receives a Certificate of Mastery that outlines what we accomplished.

Lunch: We take a break and enjoy lunch in-between the morning and afternoon courses. If you’re unable to bring a lunch, a basic deli lunch may be purchased. Children with special dietary needs should bring additional or alternative sustenance.

Looking for learning opportunities the whole family can enjoy? Click here to learn more. 

Please note: our course calendars are published at least one month in advance - the March calendar is posted by January 31st, April calendar is posted February 28th, etc.

What to Bring

  • Swimsuit
  • Sunblock (we ask that you do not bring sunblock in a spray bottle - it gets in eyes, can ruin equipment and clothing, and isn't great for the environment)
  • Hat 
  • Wading shoes* 
  • Bug repellent 
  • Towel 
  • A bag for shells or fossils, if you'd like
  • Jacket if you easily get chilled in a light wind

Don't bring disposable water bottles: Single-use disposable water bottles are a real problem for our planet. We don't allow these types of water bottles on our campuses. The islands of Sanibel and Captiva have great drinking water. We can provide you with a loaner reusable water bottle, or you can purchase one from us to help remind you of your time with us. In your day-to-day life, please find ways to reduce the use of single-use disposable water bottles.

 

Fees

Full-day, no lunch $110
Half-day, no lunch $55

Refund policy: Please click here to view our Day Program Cancellation Policy. 

Click here to download a PDF of our course descriptions. 

*Flip-flops and slip-on sandals are not great shoes for wading, because they often fall off in the water. We recommend shoes that are specifically designed to get wet, with a heel and toe that fit snugly over the foot. 

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Adult Programs


Whether you're interested in fishing, birding, or learning about marine biology, we offer an activity for everyone.

 

 

 

 

Adult Programs


Whether you're interested in fishing, birding, or learning about marine biology, we offer an activity for everyone.

 

 

 

 

Ocean Discoveries for Grown Ups

Throughout the year, Sanibel Sea School offers a variety of classroom and field-based learning opportunities for adults. Join us for a boat trip, learn to cast a net, or hold a tiny sea horse in the palm of your hands. No matter which course you choose, you're sure to experience Sanibel in a whole new way!

Adult courses are open to students ages 18 and up. Students who are 15 and older may register if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. 

We also offer customizable programs for groups and families of all ages!


Fall 2017 Boat-Based Learning Opportunities for Adults

Climb aboard and take an in-depth, scientific look at our local ecosystems and creatures with Sanibel Sea School’s Executive Director, marine biologist Dr. Bruce Neill. This year, our boat-based courses will take place from the comfort of a large pontoon boat, which provides comfortable seating for a group of adults.

Each topic will be offered twice, on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Activity Level: Low

Participants will board the boat from the Sanibel Causeway, which requires one big step up (approximately 2’), and will remain seated on our vessel for the duration of the trip.   

 

Fall Migration in the Gulf of Mexico - RESCHEDULED to November 28th and 29th
In response to your feedback, we have rescheduled this class for later in the season so that more students will be able to attend. 

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

Animal migration is an interesting and complex behavior. In this course, we will explore some of the information known about animal migrations, and apply that knowledge to migrations that take place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Let’s talk about why animals migrate, the cues they use for migration and navigation, and some of the species that migrate through Sanibel each year. We will focus on birds and fish – bait fish, cownose rays, and tarpon, to name a few. We’ll also talk about what scientists are still trying to learn about migration. 

 

October 10th and 11th: Hurricanes in Southwest Florida

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

We have just experienced one of the most interesting, powerful, and potentially devastating weather events that nature has to offer – Hurricane Irma. Luckily, here on Sanibel, we were spared from the worst destruction, but the storm raised many questions in the minds of island residents. 

This course will cover the meteorology of hurricanes, and how they have shaped Sanibel throughout history. Find out why hurricanes form, what factors shape their path and strength, how storm surge happens, what animals do during big storms, and more. We’ll visit some of the locations where past hurricanes have left their mark on our islands.  

 

October 17th and 18th: Marine Mammals of Sanibel

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

Marine mammals are some of Sanibel’s most beloved creatures – who doesn’t love to spot manatees and dolphins cruising through the water? Let’s look for these creatures and talk about their interesting biology and behavior along the way. How far does a dolphin pod travel? How do manatees mate? What are humans doing to protect marine mammals? We’ll also discuss some of the less-common marine mammals that pass through our waters. 

Come prepared with your questions – Doc Bruce has a wealth of knowledge to share! 

 

October 24th and 25th: Caloosahatchee River Oxbows near Alva

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

Oxbows are curves in the course of a river that eventually create islands and lakes. They play an important role in the distribution of nutrients into our estuary, which means they are directly related to our local water quality.

In this course, we will meet in Alva and then cruise by boat along the middle stretches of the Caloosahatchee. Oxbow bends are common in this section of the river. Let’s explore them and learn a little bit about rivers as ecosystems, and how they impact the sea.

We will meet and depart from the Alva Boat Ramp (located at 21580 Pearl Street) at 9:00 AM. We will return to the boat ramp at 12:00 PM. 

 

We will end our fall series of boat-based classes with a three-part series on San Carlos Bay. Shaped by factors like salinity, water movement, sunlight and nutrients, different areas of the bay are home to very different ecosystems and wildlife. Sign up for one or all three, and let’s look at the diverse sections of our backyard bay from a new perspective. 

 

October 31st and November 1st: North San Carlos Bay (Pine Island, Matlacha, Tarpon Bay)

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

As the Caloosahatchee River empties into San Carlos Bay, the northern section of the bay is often less impacted by the fresh water flows that commonly move south, toward the east end of Sanibel. In this class, we’ll discuss how this shapes the flora and fauna we find as we head north.  

 

November 7th and 8th: South San Carlos Bay Lunch and Learn (Bunche Beach, Estero Bay, Matanzas Pass)

9 am – approximately 2 pm
$75 per person plus the cost of lunch
Instructor: Doc Bruce

We’ll explore the coast of southern San Carlos Bay, then we will have a fabulous shore-side lunch the Dixie Fish Company. 

 

November 14th and 15th: Lower Caloosahatche (Punta Rassa and the mouth of the Caloosahatchee)

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

Let’s explore the area around the mouth of the Caloosahatchee, where the river meets San Carlos Bay. This is a dynamic and important ecological component of our estuary, but we rarely think of it that way as we drive over the bridge. Today, we will.

 

Fall Migration in the Gulf of Mexico - RESCHEDULED to November 28th and 29th
In response to your feedback, we have rescheduled this class for later in the season so that more students will be able to attend. 

9 am – 12 pm
$75 per person
Instructor: Doc Bruce

Animal migration is an interesting and complex behavior. In this course, we will explore some of the information known about animal migrations, and apply that knowledge to migrations that take place in the Gulf of Mexico.

Let’s talk about why animals migrate, the cues they use for migration and navigation, and some of the species that migrate through Sanibel each year. We will focus on birds and fish – bait fish, cownose rays, and tarpon, to name a few. We’ll also talk about what scientists are still trying to learn about migration. 

 


Barefoot Academy

Take an in-depth look at our local ecosystems with our Executive Director, Marine Biologist Dr. Bruce Neill, and Sanibel Sea School's team of marine science educators. This year, we've added new educators and new field trip destinations. Program time will be split between the classroom and the field, so be sure to bring your sunscreen, your towel, and your wading shoes!

More information about 2017-2018 Barefoot Academy programs will be added soon!


Free Guided Beach Walks

Join us for a casual guided beach walk to explore what's washed ashore. Let's talk about some of the more mysterious objects we find on the beach, look for interesting creatures, and learn a little bit of shell biology. Our marine science educators will be happy to answer any questions you might have along the way.

All ages are welcome, but children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult. 

All Beach Walks meet at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus, located at 455 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel. 

Activity Level: Moderate (1-2 hours of slow walking on the beach)

Annual Thanksgiving Beach Walk
Thursday, November 23rd, 8:45 AM

December Free Community Beach Walk
Saturday, December 9th, 2017, 9 AM

January Free Community Beach Walk
Saturday, January 13th, 2018, 9 AM

February Free Community Beach Walk
Saturday, February 10th, 2018, 9 AM

March Free Community Beach Walk
Saturday, March 10th, 2018, 9 AM

April Free Community Beach Walk
Saturday, April 7th, 2018, 9 AM


Fishing Fridays

This is a practical, hands-on fishing experience. Join Doc Bruce to explore Sanibel’s shoreline from a “fishing folk” perspective. We'll cast a line and see what we can find. Spinning or fly – your choice. Bring your gear and ideas and we’ll have a great time learning with one another. Weather permitting, we might spend one Friday on a boat. Limited to 5 participants. 

More information coming soon. 

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Families and Groups


Activities for families, friends, school groups, and more!

 

 

Families and Groups


Activities for families, friends, school groups, and more!

 

 

We offer customizable ocean experiences for families, school groups, homeschool groups, corporate groups and more. To learn more and arrange a session, contact us at 239-472-8585 or info@sanibelseaschool.org.


Families

Land-based Private Programs

Land-based private programs at Sanibel Sea School can be fully customized to suit your group’s ages, interests, and desired level of activity. One of our marine science educators will lead you into Sanibel’s unique ecosystems for a field-based ocean experience. Choose from topics like dolphins, seagrass, mangroves, wading birds, and more! Where else can you learn to cast a net, hold a tiny seahorse, or come face to face with the amazing creatures that inhabit our sandbars – sometimes all in one day! All ages are welcome, children under 4 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Land-based private programs are 2 hours long and cost $55 per person (2 person minimum). 

Boat-based Private Programs

Boat-based private programs with Sanibel Sea School's Executive Director, marine biologist Dr. Bruce Neill, provide an opportunity for your family or group to explore pristine areas of Sanibel's surrounding waters that are not accessible by land. 

This trip can be fully customized to suit your group members' ages and interests. In addition to an overview of barrier island ecology, topics may include mangrove forests, sandbars, estuaries, and more. We frequently encounter dolphins, manatees, live shells, and many bird species, and Doc Bruce will share his vast knowledge of our area and the creatures that inhabit it along the way. 

We suggest that you book this type of program 1 or more months in advance to allow sufficient time for planning. 

Boat-based private programs are 3 hours long and cost $350. Our boat can accommodate 14 guests.

SUP Rentals and Guided Paddling Excursions

Sanibel Sea School now offers guided Stand Up Paddleboarding for families and groups. Please click here, or call (239) 472-8585 or email info@sanibelseaschool.org for more information. 

Birdwatching

Each Thursday morning, we offer a walking tour to discover the birds of Sanibel Island's East End. During the walk we discuss basic bird biology and behaviors, as well as learn how to identify the birds we encounter. 

Thursdays, 9 AM - 10:30 AM
$15/ person, $5 optional binocular rental
Meet at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus (455 Periwinkle Way).
Please call (239) 472-8585 to register.

Please Note: Bird Walks are a family-oriented program. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult over the age of 18.

Shell Walk

Sanibel is a shelling paradise, with hundreds of species waiting to be discovered. Join us for a beach walk to learn basic bivalve and gastropod biology, find out why so many shells wash up on our beaches, and where to look for a few of the most coveted shells. We can't guarantee you'll find a junonia, but we promise you won't leave empty-handed! 

Thursdays, 11 AM - 1 PM
$20/ person
Meet at Sanibel Sea School's Flagship Campus (455 Periwinkle Way).
Please call (239) 472-8585 to register.

Please Note: Shell Walks are a family-oriented program. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or adult over the age of 18.

Other Groups

Let us help you plan the perfect ocean experience for your school group, homeschool group, corporate event, or anything else you have in mind. Call (239) 472-8585 to schedule your session today. 

School Groups

With lunch: $50 per pupil
No lunch: $40 per pupil

Homeschool at Sea

We are happy to provide science-based education for homeschool families and co-ops. Please give us a call to begin the process of arranging the curriculum, dates and prices.

A homeschool package consists of five or more 2.5 hour courses tailored specifically to your students. There is a curriculum development fee of $75, and the program cost is $75 per course for 10 students or less, or $150 per course for 10-20 students. 

Other Groups

Please call us to learn more about program options and pricing.

Refunds

Please click here to view our Cancellation Policy. 

Waivers

To complete your registration, please download, fill in and submit the forms as instructed therein.

Course Descriptions

Click here to download a PDF of our course descriptions. 

Scholarship Programs

We have a commitment to those who otherwise wouldn't experience the ocean. Currently, Sanibel Sea School has partnerships with the Gladiolus Learning and Development Center, the Pace Center for Girls, and Pine Manor Improvement Association to offer unique outdoor learning experiences to local underprivileged children. Once a month or more, we meet with kids from these organizations to help them build confidence and gain an appreciation for science while exploring Sanibel’s diverse barrier island habitats with us.

Sanibel Sea School also offers tuition assistance to many island families throughout the year, whose children would otherwise be unable to attend summer camps and other programs. If you are concerned that your child may not be able to participate in one of our programs due to cost, please contact us for more information.