Bringing the sea to WNC
It all started with Brenda Ramer’s desire to teach ocean awareness to western North Carolina youth. Her taking 30 kids on a bus to see manatees in Florida in 2001 has quietly grown into a major marine education resource for mountain kids who otherwise would not get to see the sea.
Today, executive director Ramer reports that Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium in Hendersonville houses more than 18 educational displays, with more than 75 species of marine and fresh water animals. Last year, it hosted more than 9,000 visitors and program participants.
The only student-driven center of its kind, Team ECCO’s volunteers greet visitors, maintain aquariums and research species diversity. The Learning Lab for Youth is designated as a REEF Field Station for the study of ocean fish and invertebrates, and the center was set to open a 100-gallon touch tank on March 15, 2014. The center also offers ocean and earth studies programs done at the Center or at your site. (828) 692-8386 teamecco.org
Note: Speaking of aquariums, Sea Life Aquarium, owned by Merlin Entertainments, opened late February at Concord Mills Mall near Charlotte. (866) 229-1573 or sealife.com/charlotte-concord