Girls learn about the world under the sea

Girls Inc. study seagrass

Marine Biologist and former Girls Inc. member Carly Karas talks about the different types of marine life found during the Girls Inc. Seagrass Monitoring Program at FSU-PC on Wednesday.

Andrew Wardlow | The News Herald
Published: Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 03:29 PM.


PANAMA CITY — The stingray shuffle started for dozens of first and second grade girls Thursday morning as part of the Seagrass Monitoring: Caring for the Nursery of the Sea program at Girls, Inc.

Learning how to avoid stingrays and other safety lessons were shortly followed by screams as a hermit crab was captured and placed in the wad-ing pool. Many of the girls said they had never seen one but quickly calmed down; until the crab came out of its shell and began crawling around the pool.

That interest and fascination is just what the marine biologist ordered.

Carly Karas, former Girls Inc. girl and University of West Florida graduate, came back to share her love of marine life with the girls during their week of sea grass programs.

“I love to teach that passion for science when they’re still young,” Karas said. “This can foster their interest in marine life, which especially for this area is immensely important. One of the few industries we have in Bay County is our commercial and recreational fishing, and sea grass beds are integral to the survival of that industry.”

Tammy Dunaway, Girls Inc. executive director, said it’s about teaching the value of the sea grass and local ecology. The program started with three local women writing a grant called EcoGulf: Stewards of Our Home. The sea grass learning experience is the pilot program under the grant in conjunction with the Stem Institute of Florida State University Panama City and was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program and Gulf Coast Workforce Center.

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