Marine science program gets a boost with new specialist staff

November 6, 2017

The Harbour School is located in the midst of rich marine biodiversity. Hong Kong waters host more than 25 per cent of all marine species recorded in China. According to a 2016 review by a research group led by Professor Gray A. Williams of The Swire Institute of Marine Science (SWIMS), Hong Kong has a record of 5,943 marine species. This abundant marine life is found in, on or around the shores of the 67 per cent of Hong Kong - all 1,650 km2 - that is ocean.


At THS, we subscribe to and are practitioners of the concept of "place-based education" - learning that which is rooted in what is local - the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place - that is in our students' own "place" – be it their schoolyard, neighborhood, city or region.


THS is developing a first-rate reputation among schools in Hong Kong for proficiency in marine sciences and the application of high-quality experiential, inquiry-based learning approaches.


As one of THS’s "Centres of Excellence" at The Grove, we are creating a Marine Science Centre. When completed, the Marine Science Centre will include:

  • a wet laboratory, in which students will engage in hands-on learning and investigations about the marine environment

  • a swimming pool, in which students will develop skills in the water including basic swimming, snorkelling and introductory SCUBA lessons, and the school’s "outdoor classroom" 

  • Black Dolphin, a 50-foot wooden ketch used for on-the-water-learning

Besides believing in an approach that incorporates local resources of all kinds into instruction, we also believe that the skills, enthusiasm and knowledge of our teachers is key to creating the kind of learning community for which we are known – diverse, inclusive, innovative, engaging and productive.


Good teachers make for a good school

We feel very fortunate to be able to announce the addition of two new staff who will manage the Marine Science Centre facilities and be responsible for designing and teaching marine science-focused programs in collaboration with our classroom teachers, as well as the other members of the school’s STEAM Team, our science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics staff.


Please welcome Sarah Taylor, who will serve as the Marine Science Centre Manager, and Maxine Cutracci, our Marine Science Specialist, to our staff. We are very fortunate to have them as part of the THS community.


Sarah Taylor, THS Marine Science Centre manager

" Growing up on the beaches of North Carolina, USA, I fell in love with the ocean and all of its mystery and power. Since career day in third grade (8 years old) I knew I wanted to study the ocean and become a marine biologist. Through my education, experience, and travels I have realized one of the most vital ways I can help save ocean ecosystems is by educating the leaders of tomorrow about the importance of the sea and inspire younger generations by sharing my passion and knowledge.

For my education I first completed a AAs (Associates in Applied Science) in Marine Technology in Wilmington, NC where I acquired valuable hands on experience working with marine life and research vessels. Next I moved to Cambodia where I worked with MCC (Marine Conservation Cambodia) leading volunteers from all over the world to help conserve coral reef habitats. After that I went on to complete a BSc in Ocean Science at the University of Brighton in the UK.

Upon finishing my education I began working at EMA (Ecological Marine Adventures) in my home town of Surf City, NC where I acted as Director of Operations and had the pleasure of creating a marine science curriculum for various age groups and abilities. This position honed my skills of engaging with students and making studying the ocean as fascinating to them as it is for me.

Working at THS I hope to inspire students to undertake their own research and give them a new appreciation for all marine environments and the importance of keeping them healthy."


Maxine Cutracci, THS Marine Science specialist

"Hello everyone. My name is Maxine Cutracci. I’m half Italian and half British and I am a Marine Biologist. Since I was a child I lived close to the sea and I always loved to collect shells and seagrass on the beach. I guess that I chose the right major at University as in the past years I’ve been able to see a huge variety of marine organisms, from super tiny larvae to huge whales! Also I was able to swim in three of the five world oceans!

During University I earned my scuba diving license and participated on a field trip to Indonesia where we studied the effects of temperature and solar creams on corals (by the way did you know that corals are animals?). I loved that experience as for the first time I was able to interact with a very different culture and discover how locals live their life on a tiny Island.

While working on my Master’s Degree, I spent a year in Spain where I worked for an Oceanographic Center and participated to an oceanographic campaign. We sailed across the Balearic islands and collected data on all the marine organisms of the area. I was in the “Shark” team, which means that my colleague and I had to identify the sharks and rays species, measure them, and identify their maturation stage.

This enriching experience allowed me to win an internship in Mexico on sharks. There I collected data on sharks and rays harvested by local fishermen (poor sharks) in order to study their diet, reproduction, and metals concentrations. Also, I participated to a field trip to study sea lions and elephant seals where I witnessed the birth of a sea lion, a life changing experience.

After my time in Mexico, I took a job in the Maldives as a Marine Biologist in an Eco hotel, where my duties were to take the guests on snorkeling trips and at the same time collect data on sea turtles and dolphins. I also collaborated with the local school on the island, giving lessons on plastic pollution and organizing beach clean-ups. Before moving to Hong Kong, I worked in China where I taught kids and teenagers language skills. But I was missing the sea too much so here I am, ready to share my knowledge and learn from you!"

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