The Aquarium’s newest education and adventure program, called Sea TURTLE (Teen Underwater Research, Training and Learning Expedition), exposes teens to important concepts including ocean health and underwater exploration. Here are some frequently asked questions about the program:


How do we keep everyone safe?

Safety is of utmost importance on the expedition. It is the main emphasis of the learning we will do as a group in the pre-expedition classroom and confined water sessions. All diving-related and in-water activities will be directly supervised by the Dive Instructor and Dive Master. A Safety Observer will be present for all confined and open water dives. The New England Aquarium’s Diving Safety Manual will be strictly adhered to at all times by staff and participants. All participants will travel from Boston to Rhode Island and back as a group, accompanied by Aquarium staff members. Aquarium staff will provide van transportation daily. A review of all safety procedures will be given during orientation along with opportunity to ask questions. All Aquarium staff are CPR, First Aid and AED certified.



Why should I do Sea TURTLE instead of a regular dive course through a dive shop?

Scuba certification is an exciting challenge for anyone, especially teens. The Sea TURTLE program not only offers a safe learning environment with an experienced dive instructor, but you will also be part of a team of your peers to support you through the whole process above and below water in class and on the expedition. In addition, you will be learning about the marine biology of southern New England in preparation to become a more environmentally aware diver now and in the future. Also, you will participate in marine field work that is part of the Aquarium’s research - and it’s fun!


What does the cost cover and how does the scholarship work?

Please see our information packet (PDF 116KB) to see how the $1700 is used. The Aquarium is a nonprofit organization and 100% of the cost goes toward the running of the Sea TURTLE program. Scholarships are available based on family financial need. To apply, the scholarship form (PDF 52KB) must be filled out completely. Please print it here: scholarship form. All applicants will be responsible for paying the $500 deposit (part of the $1,700) by July 1, 2012. Full Scholarship, sliding scales and payment plan options are available. Please ask if you have questions.


What does the swim test involve?

The Swim test involves a 200 meter/yard continuous surface swim using any stroke or combination of strokes. This is equal to four full laps (or eight lengths) of an Olympic-size pool and a 10 minute tread/float immediately following the surface swim. Students are not allowed to touch the sides or the bottom of the pool during this exercise.


Who are the staff?

There will be four staff members from The New England Aquarium. The ratio will be four staff to fourteen students.


Sarah Taylor, Senior Aquarist and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (#235501) will be leading the expedition and training. Sarah guides specimen collecting expeditions for the Aquarium and is a Giant Ocean Tank diver.




Dave Allen, Visitor Programs Specialist, will be responsible for teaching marine science, program administration and youth development. Dave is a marine science educator and scientific diver with experience leading outdoor educational trips for teens.



Two additional NEAq staff (another Educator and one Divemaster) will join the team in February. Administrative staff are Heather Deschenes and Jenna Sigman. Please direct any questions to Heather Deschenes at or 617-973-0253.



What do Sea TURTLE alumni and their parents have to say about their experience?

“I view the ocean as an essential part of human existence and helping and taking action now will help to secure the future of our world.” – J.S. Sea TURTLE II, 2011

“Thank you for taking care of [our son] and insuring he had a FANTASTIC week (and no sunburn or allergies!!!) He learned so much, felt very accomplished, and broke out of his own shell. What a fantastic experience. The other kids were wonderful travel companions and teachers, too.” – A.P. parent of a Sea TURTLE participant

“On this trip I was surrounded by brilliant and capable people that put my worries at ease. I was able to truly get in touch with myself, something I have failed to do earlier in my life. To me recognizing the man I am becoming and doing so in a caring and nurturing environment has truly been an accomplishment.” – N.T. Sea TURTLE I, 2010

“I learned I don’t give up easily.” -J.N. Sea TURTLE I, 2010

You'll find pictures and many more first-hand accounts of the Sea TURTLE experience on the blogs!

2010 Sea TURTLE Expedition

2011 Sea TURTLE Expedition


What happens when I finish Sea TURTLE?

After the expedition, participants will spend 10 to 12 hours at the Aquarium on four Wednesday nights in September preparing for two group presentations given on the same day in October. One presentation will be for the Aquarium community and the other will be part of the formal Aquarium Lecture Series and open to the public including friends and family.



For more information about this program, please visit the Sea TURTLE page or review our Information Packet (PDF 116KB).