was founded in 2001 as a grassroots ocean learning program to reach youth and adults in WNC. Our first classroom was established in 2009 in a simple 800 sq foot room with space for small classes. In 2011, we opened the first inland aquarium in NC: the Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium.

In 2018 we re-branded and became the Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO. Our Aquarium is home to over 275 fish, invertebrates, reptiles, and salamanders. There are two dozen exhibits, including our new 2,000-gallon shark study tank. With this system, interns can monitor the development of shark eggs and look at behavioral studies on animal imprinting.

“ Experience is the best teacher and a positive learning experience can change a life” ~ B.J.R.

Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO

The Aquarium & Shark Lab

We greet an average of 10,000 visitors annually. Our education programs reach an average of 3,500 children and adults from WNC and surrounding states. Team ECCO is the only ocean education lab and hands-in marine study center in WNC, Upstate SC, and Eastern TN.

Our programs include but are not limited to fish ID, marine adaptations, reef/mangrove/grass bed ecology, water quality, turtle rescue, local reptile education, and marine biodiversity, water quality, and a specialized curriculum for scout badges.

  • A

    On average, our facility is host to 6 senior projects, three college biology projects, and numerous student trainings and consults each year. We are active members of the NC Science Network, the American Elasmobranch Society, The Environmental Education Sites of NC, The Career and Technical Education Advisory Board for HCPS, and the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce.
    The Team ECCO staff and interns have partnered and networked with other major education sites such as the UA Biosphere 2, the St. Augustine Aquarium, River Banks Zoo, Odysea Aquarium, Fl Aquarium, and the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine.
    Team ECCO engages minds and bodies with custom field exploration trips to local and distant points of environmental interest on manatees, aquafer systems, coral reef development, sea turtles, shark research, and mangrove recovery.
    If it has to do with the sea, it has to be Team ECCO. We bring the sea to WNC.

  • B

    We train and incorporate student interns and volunteers into daily care and maintenance. The Executive Director shares her passion for teaching with her love of the ocean as a volunteer. Team ECCO has three part-time paid positions: front desk/bookkeeping; Lead Intern; & Assistant Director. Those involved take such pride in the work that they perform. Even on days when we are not open, we are there dedicated to making sure that our animals are taken care of.


We feel fortunate to work with such supportive partners in our community. Are you interested in becoming more involved in Team ECCO? If you'd like to find out about volunteer opportunities, visit our Get Involved page. If you'd like to learn more about becoming one of our Partners, Contact Us. If you are interesting in sponsoring a tank here at the Team ECCO Aquarium, download and fill out the Tank Support Form below.

Aquarium & Shark Lab by Team ECCO


Check out our current partners: