Selling marine life—like clownfish and seahorses—already being cultivated at Southampton High School could generate money, according to a group of marine science students who drew up a business plan they presented to the Southampton School Board last month.The plan includes hiring a full-time aquarist to offer round-the-clock care to the marine life that would be sold for use in private aquariums and fish stores. Other marine organisms might include banggai cardinal fish, skunk cleaner shrimp, orange clownfish, cinnamon clownfish, coral, rotifers, copepods and phytoplankton.
The students anticipate being able to make the most profit raising seahorses, which can sell for $100 for females and $120 for males, and black clownfish, which can sell for $50 apiece.
“The marine science program has been going for a few years now,” said 15-year-old freshman Ted Jennings at the board meeting. “We are hoping to turn it into some form of profit based on what we have been breeding.”
According to the presentation, the marine science project could generate money, but the district would have to front the cost of hiring an aquarist, an estimated $55,000-a-year position. The district would also need to allocate approximately $1,000 to upgrade the marine science lab. Eventually, the program would be self-sustaining and would offer more marine life for students to observe in the classroom, the business plan says.
The main goals would be to both privately and publicly sell marine organisms, offer adult education programs, student summer enrichment programs and cross-curricular enrichment programs, and to get students more involved.
According to Greg Metzger, the marine science teacher, once upgraded the lab will have the potential to hold approximately $22,000 worth of “product” throughout 14 tanks at one time. Tanks would be turned over every one to five months, depending on the animal species, leaving an opportunity to raise $99,000 per 10-month cycle.
The students participating in the project include Alex Ambrose, 15, Luis Arroyo, 15, Teddy Raffel, 16, Tristan Hughes, 16, and Ted Jennings.
The students are just as excited as Mr. Metzger, saying that with the right support, they will be able to make a successful go of the venture.
“Once people know more about the marine lab, we will probably get a lot of support,” Alex said. “Once they know how much we do to support the lab, they will see that we can make a difference for the school district.”
Board members responded positively and promised to consider the proposal.