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Marine life scientists welcome Savannah students aboard research ship

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Marine life scientists welcome Savannah students aboard research ship. (Credit: Briana Trusty)

Just 40 miles south of Savannah is a living laboratory called the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

On Thursday, a ship of scientists who study the reef docked along River Street to give students a closer look at a day in the life of a marine biologist.

It was all hands on deck for Coastal Middle School students as they boarded the Nancy Foster for a once in a lifetime field trip.

“So far we’ve learned about how this boat is worked, we’ve learned where the radar is, we’ve been up there and met the captain," said Lucas, a Coastal Middle School student.

The ship docks in Savannah once a year to give locals a chance to learn about the Gray Reef Marine Sanctuary.

But this year, an invitation was extended specifically to Savannah students.

“It’s a great opportunity for the school kids of Savannah to get an idea of what it’s like to be a marine biologist, what it’s like to study organisms 70 feet under the water," said Kimberly Roberson, Chief Scientist for Nancy Foster Research Expedition.

The crew aboard the ship were fresh off a 10-day expedition to the sanctuary.

“It’s about 70-feet deep so I use scuba to check out my office," said Roberson.

The day was all about giving the kids a look at a day in the life of the scientists and crew.

“What kinds of tools do we use, what sort of technology is available," she said.

More than 200 students traded their regular day in the classroom for the ship and they say this unique experience allowed them to see marine life from a different perspective.

It also gave them some ideas about their future careers.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a marine biologist and this kind of helps a little bit and I’m still thinking about it," said Lucas.

Teachers hope they will continue to think about it.

“I hope they understand that we need to take care of our oceans and that there are some careers that they can be involved in in science, technology and engineering," said Molly Axelsson, a Coastal Middle School 7th Grade teacher.

Teachers say they hope the students will be able to use what they learned in their underwater robotics course that will soon be offered at Coastal Middle School.