Ocean First Institute (OFI), based in Boulder, Colorado, believes that research and education go hand in hand. With its team of scientists, educators, divers, explorers, and filmmakers, it has reached 4,300 students in local Colorado schools and over 106,000 students in 35 countries and 44 US states through programs built around students working alongside passionate marine scientists and educators in both the classroom and the field.
Their research projects are focused on sensitive marine animals that schoolchildren and adults alike happen to find absolutely fascinating; namely, sharks, skates, and rays. And OFI’s efforts to document and ultimately protect marine life are both interesting and incredibly important right now:
“Our most recent work involves a collaboration with our partners, Mision Tiburon in Costa Rica. Together, we are investigating the regional decline in scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) sharks. Much of the decline has been attributed to the pressures of unsustainable and unregulated international shark fishing, predominately for shark fins, within Costa Rican waters. In an effort to promote sustainability and protection of Costa Rican resources, the Institute has partnered with Mision Tiburon in an ongoing tagging project in Golfo Dulce. This is an area which has been protected from destructive fishing practices for nearly five years and is showing the resiliency of and a rebounding in populations of juvenile scalloped hammerheads. The goal is to tag and track hammerheads within the area to determine if this is a hammerhead shark nursery area. Ultimately, we hope to connect movements of juveniles and adults from critical nursery areas to critical oceanic island habitats in Coco’s and the Galapagos Islands.”
To connect students with this work, OFI has developed some incredibly engaging educational opportunities, including in-school, hands-on lessons and experiments, virtual field trips, underwater robotics programs and competitions, summer camps, and youth expeditions.
To learn more about this organization, including how to schedule your own virtual field trip and donate to their research and educational programs, visit www.oceanfirstinstitute.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org