As you visit Henderson County you also want to make sure that you spend time exploring Hendersonville as well. One of the places that my family and I visited was the Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium.
The minute that you enter the Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium you know you are in for something special. Everyone is overly welcoming and while the space is not mammoth, it is the right size for all of the species of fish, turtles and more that reside under its’ roof. This aquarium started in 2001 as a learning program in the kitchen of the owners’ home. Their original and current goal is to reach and teach students of all ages about the ocean.
In 2005, the first Team ECCO classroom was established. What started out as a simple 800-square foot room grew in two more years to a public aquarium. In 2011, Team ECCO opened the doors of the first inland aquarium in North Carolina- The Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium on Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
In 2017 their marine research progressed under funding from the NC Science Museum Grant program, the Community Foundation of Henderson County, and the Henderson County TDA. This support allowed us to reach out even further. With their re-branding they became the Aquarium & Shark Lab of Team ECCO. Stepping up, they renovated many existing displays and added our new 2,000 gallon shark study tank. They enter this tank twice daily to feed and monitor the behavior and development of our 3 sharks. Also, this is the new holding tank for our shark hatching and development study.
Their Aquarium is home to dozens of species of tropical ocean fish and invertebrates. They house a reptile collection that includes frogs, lizards, geckoes, turtles and tortoises, which are kept under strict guidelines and permit from NCDNR.
They are the only ocean education lab and hands-in marine study center in Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. Their programs include but are not limited to fish ID, marine adaptations, reef/mangrove/grass bed ecology, water quality, turtle rescue, local reptile education and marine bio diversity.
They train and incorporate student interns and volunteers into daily care and maintenance. The Executive Director shares her passion for teaching with her love of the ocean as a volunteer. Team ECCO has 3 part time paid position: front desk/bookkeeping; Lead Intern; &Assistant Director.Those involved take such pride in the work that they perform. Even on days when we are not open , we are there dedicated to making sure that our animals are taken care of.
Team ECCO encourages minds and bodies with custom field exploration trips to local and distant points of environmental interest. These areas of interest include manatees, aquifers, coral reef development, sea turtles, shark research and mangrove recovery.
My Take on the Team ECCO Ocean Center and Aquarium
As someone that loves the ocean and all it does to sustain our ecosystem. I loved exploring the Aquarium & Shark Lab of Team ECCO. As I walked through the small aquarium I found that I was drawn to the student volunteers as I found that they had such a wealth of knowledge to share with anyone that was there.
I found that as I interacted with the volunteers they were informing me about things I never knew and I was meeting many new species of fish that I had never seen before as well. I spoke with one of the volunteers that told me that she first learned about the Aquarium a few years back and once she visited two times she was hooked. She informed me that her mother was a Biology teacher and while she is only a Sophomore in high school she knows that she wants to study Marine Biology at UNC Wilmington.
The volunteers at this great location really know the fish and other animals and if you ask them about them they will tell you their stories (as well as their names). You will see them feeding the animals which is a ton of fun too.
One last piece of advice, make sure to say hello to Michelangelo and Alice the two tortoises that they have when you first walk in. When we last saw them, Alice was about to lay eggs, but we were informed that they had not had luck as of yet to have a live birth. While we only met them once, we left wishing them all the luck in having a baby tortoise i
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