Monday, August 23, 2010

Marine Biology Day Camp

Twenty six marine biology enthusiasts participated in Marine Biology Day Camp August 9-13th to learn all about the marine environment and its inhabitants. Julia and Claudia worked with Nancy Israel and Cené Bryant to create an exciting week of exploring the diversity of organisms in the area with the help of Junior Counselor, Andrew. The week started with lessons on plankton and food webs to convey to the campers that even microscopic animals are important. As the week progressed, the campers studied a variety of organisms and habitats. The kids explored the rocky tide pools at Kinzie Beach where we had a spectacular day of wildlife viewing. Not only did we see tons of crabs, sea stars and chitons, but were also fortunate enough to see river otters, a bald eagle, harbor seals, a great blue heron and harbor porpoises, all within a few hours time!
Campers exploring the tidepools at Kinzie Beach

Searching the tidepools

One of the highlights of the week was a field trip to the old railroad trestle beach at low tide. Kids participated in seining, clamming, sieving for worms and using their creativity to write and draw about all these things in their camp journals. As the campers explored this sandy habitat, the low clouds lifted, giving us a perfectly sunny day.
Searching for clams

Sucessful clam dig

Lessons on fish and invertebrates were supported by real life animal viewing at the Marine Exhibit touch tanks and aquariums, which prepared everyone for arguably the best part of the week: the beach seine. This was led by Marine Program Coordinator Chrissy McLean who powered our rowboat out to set up our large beach seine (150 feet!). The kids rolled up their sleeves and used their muscles to pull it to shore. Many different marine animals were caught including lots of decorator and northern kelp crabs, tubesnouts, copper rockfish and so much more. After the campers learned about what each animal was, most were released back into the water. Shiner perch, 2 silver spotted sculpins and some tadpole sculpins were kept for education purposes in the Marine Exhibit’s aquariums.
After pulling the seine to shore

Identifying the fish and crabs we caught

We wrapped up the week with a squid dissection and building the skeleton of a gray whale, the kids loved both! The last few hours of camp were spent building a life-size orca out of sand, which was a testament to teamwork and the relationships the kids had forged throughout the week. The outcome was an awesome orca whale, complete with a saddle patch.
Assembling the grey whale

Our completed sand orca!!

The campers and staff had an amazing week learning about the marine environment, playing games and enjoying the beautiful beach at Fort Worden.

Julia Ledbetter and Claudia Padilla


  1. I am so impressed by the variety of activities the Center teaches and hosts. Congrats on reaching so many people, especially kids. Great work.

  2. It was a week full of fun and learning. Thank you Nancy, Claudia, and Julia, it was my pleasure working with you. And most of all, THANK YOU to all of the campers!


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