Aquarium Science Certificate Program Proposed at SSU - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/17/06

Aquarium Science Certificate Program Proposed at SSU

Ralph and Norton, the aquarium's prized whale sharks. Ralph and Norton, the aquarium's prized whale sharks.
Have you been yet? Many thousands have since the world's largest aquarium opened in Atlanta in November. And thanks to a new partnership with Savannah State, you'll soon be able to train for aquarium work right here in Savannah.

About 100,000 animals in 8 million gallons of water bring crowds to the Georgia Aquarium.

"The facilities are, for lack of a better word to use, awesome," said Jide Familoni, dean of SSU's College of Sciences & Technology. "To think that you have this in the State of Georgia makes you proud."

If it weren't for the aquarium, you'd have to go a long way to find animals like the aquarium's prized whale sharks. "And I know this from experience," said marine science student Nikita Jacobs. "I just got out of the Navy, so it would be Japan, cause we were over there. And that's a little bit of a ways to go."

Visitors from Savannah State got a behind-the-scenes tour. The aquarium and the university are partnering up for education and research.

"We can expose them to all of the different ecosystems that we have here within the aquarium, and hopefully that'll benefit them long term," said the aquarium's Brian Davis. "And it definitely serves as a wonderful tool for us to bring in fresh new ideas."

As a first step, they're proposing a program at SSU to certify students in aquarium science. "I think it's great, cause I actually want to intern here, during the summer possibly," said student Stephanie Couture. "And that's easy for me because I go to Savannah State, so they obviously already know me."

Though an aquarium science certificate program will let students get the training they need in Savannah to take care of exhibits and animals like those at the aquarium, that's really just the beginning of the partnership.

"I'm looking for us to do great things with them, which includes maybe exchange of staff and faculty between us and them," said SSU's Familoni.

And students say the world's largest aquarium means new horizons for their education. "Here we have all-over-the-world types of creatures," student Zachary Hagey. "We have the whale sharks, the sting rays, the giant spider crabs. I mean, hands-on experience is a great thing, great for learning."

And it might mean great things for students and the future of marine science. If all goes as planned, Savannah State could have its aquarium science certificate program up and running by next year. If you'd like more information on the program, you can contact:

Dr. Matt Gilligan
Professor, Coordinator
Marine Sciences
Savannah State University
P.O. Box 20467
Savannah, Georgia 31404
912.356.2808
gillganm@savstate.edu

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

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