Located on the McLewis Bayou, Saint Stephen’s is the only area school with a dedicated Marine Science Center and direct access to the Manatee River and Gulf of Mexico. Students from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 experience a custom-designed marine science curriculum – One Ocean – that provides an opportunity for each student to study the wonders of the ocean environment.

In partnership with Mote Marine Laboratories in Sarasota, young students at Saint Stephen’s regularly participate in field studies tailored to the One Ocean curriculum. Our older students explore from the beaches to deep water habitats via hands-on research. Through these explorations, they develop an appreciation of and personal responsibility for our fragile environment.

Using a kayak fleet, as well as boats provided through a valuable partnership with the Freedom Boat Club, students leave from our dock on the McLewis Bayou to explore nearby aquatic habitats and complete studies that create a tangible appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the gulf waters. They do water quality testing, identify and document marine and marine-related organisms


Upper School students have the opportunity to participate in Ocean Academy, a focused study of marine science that results in special recognition at graduation. Students must take all three marine science elective courses offered (marine ecology and oceanography, marine biology, and marine research) and finish with a minimum 2.5 grade point average. They also complete a marine-related research project with publication, and participate in two off-campus marine science events in collaboration with local marine research and resource agencies (Mote Marine, Florida Aquarium, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, etc.). During annual Interim Quest, students also have the opportunity to take SCUBA certification or travel for extended marine study in locations including the Florida Keys, Costa Rica, Grand Cayman, Hawaii and elsewhere.