Marine Studies Program

Marine Studies Program

At Canterbury, we’re known for our many advanced academic offerings and signature programs, like our Character Education program (also known as LEADS). However, one program that sets Canterbury apart is our Marine Studies program, which teaches our students the importance of conservation as well as how to become environmental leaders. Canterbury students also have the opportunity to learn through our state of the art Cousteau Center for Marine Studies and local partnerships with other key environmental leaders.

This school-wide program focuses on all aspects of marine science and environmental education with an emphasis on how to monitor and track marine biodiversity. In addition to classroom learning, students also experience hands-on, discovery-based learning through community service efforts, field trips, research opportunities, habitat restoration projects, and a STEAM garden program and SCUBA program. 


Cousteau Divers School and Center for Marine Studies 

In addition to Canterbury’s ideal campus locations, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, son of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, selected Canterbury to become the first Cousteau Divers Partner School in the world in 2012. Cousteau Divers is an international not-for-profit organization, which fosters marine conservation, works to establish marine protected areas (MPAs), and promotes scientific programs that monitor and conserve marine biodiversity around the world. As a result of this esteemed partnership, Canterbury School of Florida is responsible for teaching new open water divers every year! 

However, the centerpiece of this program is the Cousteau Center for Marine Studies (CCMS) facility, which opened in the Fall of 2008 on Canterbury’s Knowlton campus. The CCMS provides students in all grades opportunities to gain hands-on experience studying a marine environment in a laboratory setting. The building houses a laboratory, classroom, laptop lab, and three brand new aquarium touch tanks. In addition to this one of a kind space, the Marine Studies program also includes a kayak and paddle board fleet and a 23.5 ft. Sea Pro boat which allows students the opportunity to explore and study the waters of the Tampa Bay area. 


Canterbury and Marine Science: A Perfect Match 

The Marine Studies program is truly a dynamic and unique program that is one of a kind at Canterbury School of Florida. Started in 2006, the program began from a desire to enhance the traditional science curriculum and focus on expanding experiential and inquiry-based education. The program was also developed to teach students how humans interact with the ocean environment. 

Canterbury’s campuses' unique locations to the waterways surrounding St. Petersburg, FL also lent themselves to be the perfect fit for a marine studies program. Surrounded by natural estuaries and with close proximity to different parts of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, both campuses allow students the opportunity to explore, study, and experience the wonder of the natural ecosystems that surround our school communities. 

Marine science has also become a fundamental part of Canterbury’s overall school culture. Marine studies can be seen in every facet of our student and parent communities with student clubs dedicated to Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Marine Biology, and annual programming and events like the Canterbury Cup, our annual catch-and-release fundraising fishing tournament, and summer camps for Kindergarten through 12-year-olds. 

When asked about the importance of this program, Audrey Mitchell, Director of Marine Studies, said the following, “Our oceans and estuaries have reached a critical point and I strongly believe now is more important than ever to foster a well-informed public about the survival of our oceans’ biodiversity. I believe that quality education is the cornerstone for inspiring tangible, actionable, and positive change in relation to environmental conservation. I am constantly and consistently inspired by Canterbury School of Florida’s Marine Studies program and the efforts made by the community and students through stewardship, research, and environmental education.”


Marine Research Opportunities 

At Canterbury, students are also exposed to many real-life research opportunities through field research programs. These are a unique part of our robust marine studies program that is intended to create a more well-rounded experience and prepare students for higher education. 

Our students in upper school courses have the opportunity to collaborate with scientists and industry professionals from the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), Tampa Bay Watch, and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). With their professional guidance, our students have been able to deploy oceanographic drifters to research currents and ocean circulation, and build model buoys to learn about the importance of water quality data. These programs allow students to engage in hands-on STEM experiences, interpret real-time data, and gain a deeper understanding of oceanography with the incorporation of technology. 

Our students have also had opportunities to handle research in waters beyond Tampa Bay at the Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas. The Island School is a leader in sustainable living and education, as well as marine science research at the high school level. In the summer of 2015, 10 upper school students also attended a diving research trip in Roatan, Honduras, which focused on lionfish research.


Marine Studies Community Partnerships  

Canterbury students are afforded unique access to numerous resources provided by our community partnerships. Due to our campuses’ proximity to Florida's largest open water estuary, the Marine Studies program at Canterbury continues to grow in the community. As a result, Canterbury students and faculty benefit from relationships with the following organizations, who provide curriculum materials, facilities, and scientific expertise to assist us in educating students and conducting research:

  • College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida

  • Eckerd College

  • U.S. Geological Survey

  • Florida Wildlife Research Institute

  • Tampa Bay Watch

  • Tampa Bay Estuary Program, and many others.

Our community partners are able to assist Canterbury's goals for teaching students character education, community, and academics by expanding the classroom experience into field work, class trips, research projects, and interactive learning.

To learn more about Canterbury’s marine studies program as well as past service and research trips, visit our website here.