Boy Scouts – Barrier Island Patch and Oceanography Merit Badge Programs

We offer both a two-hour Coastal Empire Council BSA Barrier Island Patch Program and an Oceanography Merit Badge Program for Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Webelos, and Boy Scouts. Visit the science center, work toward your patch or badge, and discover the diversity of life that inhabits the Georgia coast!

Programs are offered year-round, rain or shine, and must be scheduled in advance.

To help you plan your program, we’ve included all our program information on this page. Additionally, Get a PDF of our Adult Leader Guide and if you call us at 912-786-5917, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., We’ll help you put your program together.

Barrier Island Patch Program

This two-hour program for scouts of all ages highlights the dynamics of Georgia’s barrier islands. Hike along the shore and learn about the forces behind tides and waves, sand dune formation and importance, and the effects of development on islands. Then, choose sand sifting (ankle-deep) or seine netting (waist-deep) to discover the wildlife below the sand or in the surf. Finally, tour our Coastal Georgia Gallery in search of gliding stingrays, scampering hermit crabs, tons of turtles, and more!
The Tybee Island Marine Science Center Fun Patch is available in our Discovery Shop for $3.75 including tax.

Beach Ecology Walk


Scouts explore the dynamics of Georgia’s barrier islands on a guided beach walk along the shore of Tybee’s beach. The barrier islands along Georgia’s coast are introduced. The intertidal zone, the origin of sand, the forces behind the tides and waves, sand dune formation and its importance are explained along the walk. The effects of pollution and development on the ocean and shoreline will be examined. Various animals and plants are identified. Adaptations for survival on a barrier island are emphasized. The life cycle of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle is explained. Your scouts may collect unoccupied shells during the Beach Ecology Walk. (1 hour)

Guided Gallery Tour


Our Coastal Georgia Gallery was designed and built by our staff marine science educators. Even many of the photographs you’ll see were taken by the staff. Educators will lead the scouts on a tour of the Coastal Georgia Gallery, which features species native to Georgia’s coast, a few invaders, and exotics from other oceans. We will learn about the lives of many animals in the gallery including stingrays, jellies, and baby alligators. Your scouts also get the chance to touch live marine invertebrates in the touch tank, including hermit crabs, snails, and spider crabs. The animals on display in the tank are identified by name on the monitors. (½ hour)

Sand Sifting


Scouts discover the marine life of the intertidal sandy bottom environment. Strainers are used to sift various organisms from the wet sand on the beach. Multiple invertebrates such as mole crabs, coquina clams, amphipods, and isopods are magnified and identified. Fun facts and important traits are discussed. Explore the intertidal food web and adaptations that allow for survival in shifting tides. If time and classroom space permits, a FlexCam session can further understanding by projecting an enlarged image onto a flat screen TV. (½ hour).



Scouts discover marine life of the intertidal zone by using a method of fishing, seining. They will pull a ten-foot seine net through waist deep water to try to catch organisms, such as juvenile fish, crabs, and sea jellies. Various seining methods are used. Commonly caught organisms include juvenile pompano, silverside, mullet, kingfish/whiting, sea jellies, and various species of crab. After seining, we will examine the species caught. (½ hour)

Oceanography Merit Badge Program

This two-hour program for Boy Scouts fulfills some of the requirements for the Oceanography Merit Badge. Scouts use various oceanographic equipment from the pier and beach to measure and analyze visibility, depth, temperature, and salinity. Sand sifters and a plankton net are also utilized to examine the wildlife of the sand and surf. In the classroom, a flexible camera is used to get a “close-up” look at organisms on a large-screen television.

Scouts also tour our Coastal Georgia Gallery to interact with live marine invertebrates in the touch pool, learn about endangered sea turtles, and observe baby ‘gators and fish. Boy Scouts complete some of the requirements for an Oceanography Merit Badge and gain a better understanding of the importance of studying the sea by experiencing firsthand the multiple disciplines of oceanography.