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Empathy at the Beach

A white wave shape.

See what our beach naturalists have to say about empathy best practices

“I was conscious about using language that helped visitors relate to things in a very personal and tactile way, using words like home to refer to where organisms were found or neighbor when talking about relationships and organisms found in proximity to each other. I tried to tell stories that were simple and relatable and left opportunity for visitors to add to and make up stories of their own. On occasion, especially with groups of children, we did the barnacle dance or shuffled around like crabs.”

“I modeled empathy by either observing animals or touching carefully with one wet finger. I talked about how animals try to stay cool and moist on hot summer days when the tide is out.”

"I frequently used ideas and concepts about empathy when interacting with beach visitors, encouraging them to practice gentle stepping and touching and engaging them in dialogue about what an animal’s life is like and how it’s important to protect its environment.”

“I explained what the little and less-charismatic creatures were at the beach, so that visitors learned that they were also living things. And I made sure to reinforce the wet, one-finger touch to beach visitors.”

“Instead of focusing on the macro fauna, I tried to tell stories of the underrepresented small creatures, and it helped bring the swarm of activity on the beach to life for the kids.”

“I loved making comparisons with the kids. Rock flipping, for example: How would you feel if someone flipped on the lights in the middle of the night? I enjoyed helping others see these tiny creatures as living beings that deserve our care.”

“I challenged the tendency to relate more to animals with faces, referred to the beach as the animals’ home, and anthropomorphized a little while highlighting the animals’ own unique characteristics.”


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