The North Carolina Science Trail is proud to partner with so many dedicated science education organizations across the state, and occasionally we have the pleasure of highlighting one of our partners in this blog post. This week we want to share a new and exciting education program led by Team ECCO and the Aquarium and Shark Lab from Hendersonville, NC.

TEAM ECCO, Brenda J. Ramer, M.Ed., CAT, OCS

Team ECCO and the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO announce an exciting new partnership with First Bank – the creation of Special Seas!

Special Seas will be a first-of-its-kind program to teach marine sciences and aquarist skills based within a learning group of exceptional children/young adults. The group will host ages 14-22, mild to moderately challenged students, to give them an immersive experience with the sea. Students will engage in animal care, husbandry, feeding, and exhibit maintenance. This program is a real-time life-skill and job-skill training set. The participants will have fun – and learn at the same time! This new program will run from April 2023 through May 2024. They will practice their skills on given Saturdays when the Aquarium is open to the public. Programs will occur two times per month, and plans are in the works for some extraordinary adventures to other Aquariums and MAYBE even the FL Keys!

We hope to make Special Seas a prototype for use by other teaching sites in an effort to open the water to those who are mentally and/or physically challenged. We believe that experience is the best teacher and a positive learning experience can change a life. We are so thankful to FIRST BANK for seeing the purpose of Special Seas and supporting the dreams of all learners.

Who are we?

Team ECCO is the premier ocean education resource in WNC. In 2022, we welcomed over 11,000 visitors to our site and reached more than 5,400 participants in classes and programs. Team ECCO will have the first weather and shark-tracking buoy for research installed this summer. Our Shark Team is leading research on “virgin birth” in bamboo sharks, and field testing shark tagging techniques with a team in Exuma Island, Bahamas.

Want to visit or have a student who might be interested in our new program?

Please see our website ( or contact our director, Brenda J. Ramer at