What does a mid-19th century Latin phrase have to do with Manatee Week at Sanibel Sea School? Just about everything as it turns out – at least that’s how we look at things. Omni cellula e cellula translates as the origination of cells are cells – that cells come (only) from cells; it was the fundamental idea of the Cell Theory which is a tenant in studies of the cellular basis of life on this planet.
Jivan Khaki scopes out the surf before entering the (surf) battle.
So how does this relate to manatees? Manatees are consummate herbivores – the cows of the sea. To understand how they can survive on a diet of seagrass, we have to understand a little about the basic building blocks of plants – cells. We have to begin to understand how plant cells are different from animal cells and require different digestion. So to understand how manatees thrive in our rich seagrass communities, at Sanibel Sea School we learned about the cellular basis of all living things. Pretty cool stuff for a week at summer camp.
Chase Desiderio-Taub launches himself into some manatee fun.
Of course, we also wanted to understand manatee propulsion so we had monofin races. We seined for fish, snorkeled on seagrass beds, found octopus and seahorses. We made life-sized sand sculptures of manatees; we surfed afternoon squalls, made manatee style ear bone beads from clay and used metal detectors to find buried treasures. At the end of the week, we visited Bailey’s Grocery Store to make sidewalk art and educate the public about these marine mammals that are so iconic to southwest Florida.
It’s the journey, not the destination. Campers flatten a scale-sized manatee sand sculpture after its creation. Leave only footprints and take only memories.
All in all, it was a great week at Sanibel Sea School. We learned a lot about the life surrounding us on our ocean planet. We rekindled old friendships, made new ones and created memories that will last a lifetime. Not bad for a week of summer camp.
We are grateful to the many supporters of our summer programs. These include: Bailey’s Grocery Store, the Island Cow, Big Red Q, Billy’s Bikes, R.S. Walsh Landscaping; scholarship funding is provided by the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club.
Sanibel Sea School is a Sanibel-based non-profit foundation that looks to a world where all people value, understand and care for the ocean. Joins us in that vision at sanibelseaschool.org.