Emmy Award-winning TV show focuses on VIMS science

  • Glider Scene
    Glider Scene   The Aqua Kids pose for a photo in the middle of filming a scene on underwater gliders with VIMS Assistant Professor Donglai Gong.   Photo by Erin Fryer
  • Oyster Scene
    Oyster Scene   The Aqua Kids film a segment on oysters with VIMS Director of the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center Stan Allen.   Photo by Erin Fryer
  • SAV Scene
    SAV Scene   The Aqua Kids learn about Submerged Aquatic Vegetation with VIMS Professor Ken Moore while filming a scene for their upcoming 11th season.   Photo by Erin Fryer
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Aqua Kids dive into Chesapeake Bay and seaside research

The cast and crew of the Aqua Kids television series traveled to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s Gloucester Point and Wachapreague campuses in July to interview scientists and learn about local marine research as they filmed several episodes for their 11th season airing this fall.

An educational children’s program, Aqua Kids strives to educate young people about the importance of protecting marine environments and the animals that live there.

Drew Bostick, star of the Aqua Kids TV Series, examines seagrass while filming at VIMS.The show—currently in the middle of filming its new season—is broadcast weekly on more than 130 stations across the United States. With a target audience of children ages 13 to 16 years old, the show’s stars travel the globe and share their adventures and lessons learned about preserving the ocean.

The Aqua Kids’ cast and crew spent almost two weeks at VIMS, helping researchers collect animals for the annual Juvenile Fish and Blue Crab Survey, re-establish scallops to Virginia’s Eastern Shore at VIMS’ Wachapreague campus, and study terrapin turtles alongside researchers with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. They also did field and lab work related to marine debris, marsh habitats, climate change, and much more.

VIMS Professor Ken Moore spent time with the Aqua Kids while filming a segment on seagrasses. He says, “I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to answer the Aqua Kids questions. Working with a younger audience is really important because they’re our next generation of citizens and scientists.”

Selena Parades—a cast member currently filming her fifth season with Aqua Kids —echoes Moore’s sentiments. “It’s important to educate the younger generation about environmental issues because they are the future, and eventually they will have to take over,” she says. “If they’re not aware of the issues at hand, they won’t be able to solve them.”

During each Aqua Kids episode, viewers see Parades and fellow cast members Drew Bostick and Andrew Pidduck join with host Hannah Jones to question experts concerning important issues and challenges in marine science.

“I was really impressed with the Aqua Kids’ questions,” says Moore. “They asked the type of questions that need to be asked, and that need to have answers. I think it’s a great program and something everyone will be able to benefit from no matter what age.”

The cast filmed a wide variety of scenes during their time at VIMS, including a visit to the VIMS Oyster Hatchery with Professor Stan Allen, a stint studying blue crabs with Marine Scientist Michael Seebo, a look at underwater gliders with Assistant Professor Donglai Gong, and a primer on blue crab diseases and parasites with Professor Jeff Shields.

The Aqua Kids were enamored with the 6-foot-long, 150-pound Slocum glider Gong uses to perform his oceanographic research. Gong explained that the bright yellow glider—which the Aqua Kids say “looks like a banana”—is an autonomous underwater vehicle that combines changes in buoyancy with a pair of fins to propel itself through the water.

George Stover, producer of Aqua Kids, says, “The cast and crew had a incredible week at VIMS. The research they are doing is critical to the health of the Bay and its surrounding waterways, wetlands, and wildlife. The episodes featuring the VIMS scientists will be highly educational and informative.”

Aqua Kids has been honored with a number of prestigious awards, including 2 Emmy Awards, 15 Telly Awards, 2 Videographer Awards, and more. The show also received the first Marine Awareness for Children Award by Marine BizTV.

The new episodes will air between October 1st and December 31st on WTVZ.