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      Students get up close and personal with some marine life

      Students learn about pinfish from DNR (John Gaddy/WCIV)

      By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's a chance for students to get out on the water while learning about the creatures swimming below.

      The Carolina Coastal Discovery Marine Education Program, which is run by the state Department of Natural Resources, is all about teaching kids about marine science in an interactive way.

      It was all hands-on-board the Educational Vessel Discovery.

      "It's not every day you get to hold fish and get fish slime all over you," said Sallie McLeod, a senior at Heathwood Hall.

      But that's exactly what this group of high schoolers got to do as Jessica Tipton, the education specialist for DNR, talked about the different species that were caught in the trawl net.

      "When we pull that trawl net over and they see all the animals that are in that trawl net - just seeing their faces light up and the excitement, they just can't contain it," said

      Robert Wiggers is DNR's public information director.

      The catch: flounder, spadefish and puffer fish. But there were a few surprises beyond the net.

      "I didn't think we were going to get a little squid. That was really cool," said McLeod. "It inked for us, which was really awesome."

      The goal of this program is to make marine science real and interactive.

      "I think that unless they have that hands-on experience that they can relate it to something they can really see that's tangible. I think it's something they are going to remember for a long time," said Wiggers.

      And who knows -{} some of them might even become marine biologists.

      The Discovery is booked almost year-round with student and adult educational programs. The trips usually last an hour to an hour-and-a-half. There are vessel-based and land-based programs.

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