Students Learn About Gulf Marine Life

School's out Saturday, but that didn't stop hundreds of children, and their parents, from learning about marine life and environmental issues. The Pass Christian harbor and waters were packed with people, who turned out for this year's Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival.

"Look at the gills," one teacher said to students.

"Ew," Ray Fillingame said.

Ray Fillingame looked on in wonder as he learns about the anatomy of a fish. It's just one of many lessons Ray picked up at the Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival.

"Habitats are natural homes to animals. Recycling helps animals and us," Fillingame said.

"I have all kinds of stuff in here about sea animals and sea life," Emily McDermott said, as she showed off her bag of goodies.

This is the third year Emily and her best friend Colleen attended the festival. They say they learn something new each year.

"We've been learning about dolphins, sea animals, how they're endangered, and we should just pick up cans and recycle and all that stuff," Colleen Rafferty said.

These are lessons the two friends put into action.

"If we see anything on the shore, we'll pick it up and put it in the trash bag, like one of these or something," McDermott said.

Canoe and kayak trips at the festival provide a hands-on lesson for youngsters about caring for the environment.

"They see a fish jump, they see a turtle on a log, it's the most exciting thing in the world, and it opens a whole new door for them that they may not have ever entered before," Sharon Woodfield said.

And that's what this festival is all about, learning about our marine environment, but more importantly, how to preserve it so we can enjoy it more.

The festival is funded through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.