Sanibel Sea School in Florida, USA

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sanibel Sea School in Florida, USA


Our vision is a world where people value, understand and care for the ocean. Our mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. Our approach is to provide ocean activities about marine ecosystems such as the ocean, animals, people, land and weather. All our courses are centred on local wildlife species such as sea stars, reptiles, turtles and local birds. We have six naturalists on the team who are all either biologists/ecologists or wildlife experts. We do occasionally handle small marine creatures, but never anything larger than a small fish and always within an environment that is supervised by professionals to ensure that no harm is done. Where we live, there are an abundance of accessible sea creatures, and we know that children (and adults) will handle them whether they know how to or not. We believe that it's best to show people how to handle marine life gently and safely, only long enough to take a closer look, and to always put it back in its home environment. We believe that by educating people about the habitat and animals we are able to share information about protecting them.

We are committed to reducing waste. Our campus is a single-use plastic bottle free area as these are a real problem for our environment – we have big signs up about it on all our doors, you could almost say we were quite militant about it! We do loan reusable water bottles out to discourage the use of disposable plastic bottles. During Summer Camps we are currently challenging families to be completely plastic free with their packed lunches. We will shortly start composting all the lunch leftovers too. To respect our local environment we also have a policy of always having a ‘take five’ at the end of each programme on the beach, which involves everyone cleaning up ensuring nothing is left on the beach that does not belong there.

As advocates for the ocean, we understand what a precious resource water is. The educational experiences provided allow for the promotion of water saving initiatives – we give advice to clients on saving the ocean by saving water. On our campus we reduce our water usage by having native plants that do not require irrigation.

We are currently on the grid for electricity but we have just received a grant so we can work towards implementing solar panelling – we hope to be finished in the next year.


We believe that it is very important in a place that depends on tourism that it is not just the tourists that are served but also that we serve our local community. Our Summer Camp programmes are made up of approximately 85% local children and the Island Skills Camp allows them to learn more about their environment and teaches them skills such as fishing net usage and shell identification.

We have a commitment to those who would otherwise not experience the ocean through an outreach programme. We provide group work for children from low income communities in Fort Myers free of charge in partnership with the Gladiolus Learning and Development Centre, the Pace Centre for Girls and the Pine Manor Improvement Centre. At least once a month or more we bring the children over on a bus and they explore Sanibel’s diverse habitat with us to help them build confidence and gain an appreciation for their environment and science.

We also have a policy to never turn anyone away from the school based on cost. We foster a no questions asked scholarship for many local island families, whereby they can pay what they can.

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