A little girl pointed to an aquarium and shouted "Oh, look at the turtle"!
She was among a group of excited 2nd and 3rd graders who travelled more than two hours to see some of nature's wonders. On Thursday, the gifted students from Flowood Elementary discovered Marine Life in Gulfport for the very first time.
Michelle Sullivan said "They get to be up close and personal. They touch some of the animals, and talk with caregivers of animals. They read it in a book, but it's actually real when they get to come here and actually touch and participate".
Eight year old Wesley Dillard got to touch and feed some of the dolphins. He said "They feel so smooth. Feeding them was kind of strange because I didn't know they would actually just sit there and eat. I thought they would probably swim down and try to get them".
A new Harris poll shows that more and more teachers are turning facilities like Marine Life into outdoor classrooms.
Marine Life Director Dr. Moby Solangi said "I think the point that came across was what we're doing was liked by the public. They appreciate what we're doing. It's a great learning tool and it helps instill good values about nature".
The survey hilights another important point. By seeing, touching and feeding the animals, the experience will hopefully open up the children's eyes, and even their hearts, to wildlife.
Solangi said "It creates this appreciation about the animals and their environment, and if you love something, you want to protect it".
Seven year old Summer Herlevin said "They're fun. They're very cool to watch. It would be really cool if I had one so I can play with it".
Wesley said "They can be very nice animals. We should respect them and care for them".
Taking better care of the animals will mean more of them for the children to see and enjoy in the future. Just so you know, Marine Life is the second oldest marine mammal facility in the world.