Team ECCO was brought to life in 2001 as a grassroots ocean learning program to reach and teach students of all ages in WNC about the ocean. This first initiative took 40 children and 10 adults on a voyage to discover manatees.
Living in Western North Carolina, the opportunity to explore marine life from different parts of the ocean is a scarcity. That is why in 2001, Team ECCO was brought to life s a grassroots ocean learning program to reach and teach students of all ages in WNC about the ocean. Location should not be an excuse for lack of resources and knowledge, so Executive Director, Brenda Ramer decided to take action. In 2007 Team ECCO received full IRS 501 c 3 status. This status gave Team ECCO the official title of non-profit.
Two years later after much hard work, the first Team ECCO classroom was established. What started out as a simple 800-square foot room grew in two more years to a full fledge aquarium. In 2001, Team ECCO opened the doors of the first inland aquarium in North Carolina- The Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium located on Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
As our marine research progressed we realized there was room to grow even more. In 2017 we closed our doors for a short time to begin a renovation that included the installation of a 1,600 gallon shark tank.
Our Aquarium is home to dozens of of species of tropical ocean fish and invertebrates. We also house a reptile collection that includes frogs, lizards, geckoes, turtles and tortoises. Almost all of these reptiles were accepted as “adoptions” by our team and are kept under strict guidelines and permit from NCDNR.
Each year we welcome more and more visitors to our aquarium. We hope our new tanks will draw visitors from near and far to step in and watch a live feeding, or tune in to our lifestream of the tank online. Our Aquarium is both child and adult friendly because we believe that you are never too old to learn something new.
We are the only ocean education lab and hands-in marine study center in Western North Carolina, Upstate South Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. 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 bio diversity.
In order to expand our learning even further than our aquarium, we partner with outside institutions to provide the most well-rounded education that we can. These places include organizations such as the Georgia Aquarium and the UA Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ.
We are run solely by student interns and volunteers with no staff on payroll, which is why those involved take such pride in the work that they perform. Even on days when we are not open our volunteers are dedicated to making sure that our animals are taken care of.
Team ECCO encourages minds and bodies with custom field exploration trips to local and distant points of environmental interest. These areas of interest include manatees, aquifers, coral reef development, sea turtles, shark research and mangrove recovery.
Experience is the best teacher and a positive learning experience can change a life.