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!


2018 Winter Workshops for Adults: Continuing Education for the Ocean Curious

Beginning in January, Sanibel Sea School will offer two four-week workshops for adults. Similar to an upper level college course, these series are designed to provide an in-depth examination of the subject matter in a relaxed academic setting. Students are encouraged to engage in discussion and critical thinking with instructors and peers as we build our knowledge together. Each session will include classroom and field-based components. It is possible to enroll in individual sessions, but we encourage participants to take full advantage of this learning opportunity by registering for the full series. 

Activity Level: Moderate
Approximately one hour will be spent in the classroom, followed by two hours in the field. Participants will walk along roads and/or beaches at a relaxed pace.

Open to students ages 18 and up. Individuals ages 15 and up may attend if they are accompanied by an adult. There are no prerequisites, but students should have a strong interest in the topic. 

Cost: $75 per session or $300 per series
(Please note: To register for the full series, you must add each individual session to your cart.)

Birds of the Beach
Instructors: Nicole Finnicum, M.S. and Johnny Rader
Dates: 1/24, 1/31, 2/7, 2/14
9 AM - 12 PM

Sanibel's shorelines are home to numerous species of birds that can often be observed darting in and out of the surf or perched in the mangroves. Many of these species are similar in appearance, and some tend to congregate in mixed groups. Certain species also experience multiple plumage phases throughout the year – all factors that can make proper identification a challenge. During this course, we will learn key identification skills, examine the biological reasons for specific bird behaviors, and investigate avian migration patterns. Each session will focus on one bird category – woodland birds, waders and divers, shorebirds, and gulls and terns. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to identify most of the birds we encounter here on Sanibel, and will have considerable knowledge of each species’ biology and habits. Join us for four weeks of fun, intensive ornithology! 

About the Instructors:

Nicole Finnicum, M.Sc. earned her master’s degree in environmental studies after conducting research on the effects of urbanization on avian species diversity in Scotland. She is an avid birder and naturalist with years of field-based teaching experience in Southwest Florida. Johnny Rader has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife conservation biology from Ohio University. He is an experienced environmental educator with a passion for birding, and has taught numerous birdwatching courses in Florida and the Bahamas.

January 24th: Common Woodland Birds

Example species: Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

When we think of birds on Sanibel, those species associated with the ocean are usually the first to come to mind. However, there is a high diversity of woodland perching birds that breed, nest, and forage on the island. During this course, we will focus on identifying these often hard to see birds and learn how they utilize our island environment as their habitat.

January 31st: Waders and Divers

Example species: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Brown Pelican, Osprey

Wading and diving birds provide an excellent opportunity to discuss how different species utilize very different strategies to catch prey. This class will focus on carnivorous birds that engage in visual hunting and tactile hunting. We’ll discuss how some species have adaptations to avoid getting wet when hunting, and others dive talon-first into the water. We’ll focus on birds in the egret and heron family, as well as osprey and pelicans.

February 7th: Shorebirds

Example species: Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, Snowy Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Sanderling

Commonly known as peeps, shorebirds can be difficult to identify because of their very similar shapes and coloration. This course will summarize the most common shorebird species we find on Sanibel, and we will hone in on seasonal plumage changes, camouflage strategies, and migration.

February 14th: Gulls and Terns

Example species: Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern

Gulls and terns are different species, but are often confused with one another. We will discuss their contrasting feeding strategies, what behaviors they have in common, and their distribution. Many gulls and terns are colonial nesters, so we’ll talk about the advantages of this adaptation and some special strategies they use to ensure the survival of their offspring. 


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


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.   

Registration for our Fall 2017 series has closed. We will announce our Fall 2018 offerings in late summer.