Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So long, farewell...

Reflecting on our past two years here in Port Townsend we came up with some 'secrets' that we would like to share with our blog followers. These are things we have learned about ourselves, about each other and fun sayings that got us through the day. 

"Port Townsend helped me heal in more ways than one."

"I don’t know which smell of death is worse… mammals or inverts."

"Sometimes I think in tweets and facebook status updates."

"Is afraid of being forgotten."

"I thought I didn’t need any more friends before I came here. I couldn’t have been more wrong."

Sometimes you just need to take a break and go “collect some eel grass”

"Every once in a while you just need to go have a cry on the dock."

"This year has been completely different than last year."

"One of the funnest things about new friends is the things that rub off on each other."

"The act of killing encrusting tunicates and barnacles has become disturbingly satisfying for all of us."

"You know it’s been a long day when you start sassing the hydrophone."

"Port Townsend has made me realize I am stronger."

Our last attempt to leave our prints at PTMSC

Farewell Port Townsend, all the wonderful people, amazing animals, and beautiful scenery. We take with us a strong sense of community, lasting relationships and the strength that we have found within ourselves.

Thank you for all your comments and love Blogger family!

The Sanderlings
2009-2011 PTMSC Team

*Inspiration comes from Post Secret (

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coastal Explorers Day Camp: Saving the Best for Last!

Coastal Explorers day camp was the last camp of the season for us here at PTMSC. It was sad to end such a fun summer, but we truly went out with a great group of kids, so all is well that ends well. It is kinda hard to justify complaining about camp ending, anyway.

"AAARGH! Really! I just had a BLAST with multiple groups of engaged, knowledgeable, interesting, and exciting children. And I have to stop?! What did I do in my past life to deserve this!"

So, to recap Coastal Explorers camp for those of you who were not lucky enough to be there, I will give an overview of each days activities. A few pics are included to make you extra jealous.


We started off camp like most activities with 8-12 year olds start: running around.

Pictured above: running around
Then we got down to business, and started creating our journals for the week. We also had a natural history game show, hosted by yours truly. Then a trip to the beach was in order, for a little scavenger hunt and group photo:

See if you can find me. I am the one in the red shirt.


We started Tuesday off with our favorite activity: running around. Not wanting to be outdone, I had to get into the action, and channel my inner 10 year old. Unfortunately, my inner 10 year old self played too many videogames.

Me tagging* the campers.
 *No "tagging" actually occured. Who invented tag anyway? Probably a fast 10 year old.

After the not-at-all-tiring tag session we went to the Marine Exhibit and fed some of the animals. I was pleasantly suprised at how respectful and gentle the campers were with the animals. If everybody cared about animals as much as some of these children do, this world would be a better place.

Then we had lunch. You might be asking youself "But Chris, why are you blogging about lunch? Lunch happens every day, camp or not." Ahhh, you would be correct. However, after lunch we had my favorite activity. Quiet Time.

Pictured above: not running around.

So, after lunch we went into the forest and had a great afternoon learning about ecological niches, catching aquatic invertebrates, and visiting the chinese gardens. I particularly enjoyed the chinese gardens portion of our adventure, because it is an area with some interesting ecological and cultural history (which Jess so kindly explained very ellequantly to the group).


I was really excited about Wednesday, because I was teaching a lesson on insects, and we were gonna get some nerdy, awesome, microscope time.

But first, we had a few options to start the day off with. We could either:
A) Sit quietly and reflect on our previous night's dreams
B) Have a calm, measured conversation on local politics
C) Listen to some light Jazz, with a spot of tea to warm us up on this chilly, foggy morning
D) RUN AROUND! A LOT! and laugh at slow counselors who try and catch us.

The Jazz was a close second.

Luckily, afterwards we were able to get down to SCIENCE! Insect class went really well with almost all of the campers interested in the anatomy portion of the class.

Sorry to bug you guys, but sit up straight and bee attentive

But the real stars of the class were the microscopes. The kids absolutely LOVED them!

Then we went up to the top of the bluff, played an epic game of camoflauge, and learned about some history of the bunkers. It was a tiring, yet rewarding experience.


I don't remember exactly how we started Thursday off, actually, maybe if I see a picture it will jog my memory. Wait was last sentence a run-on?

The campers standing still are actually lying in wait
for some unwary counselor to try and catch them...

Today we did what was probably the most popular activity among the kids: assembling "Spirit" the grey whale's skeleton. Aside from putting smiles on the campers' faces, this activity taught teamwork, deduction, and respect for the rules. The campers had to hold the bones very carefully, and keep an open dialogue going about the placement of each bone. They performed these tasks with ease.

And here is the "semi-finished" Spirit:

I have a bone to pick with those kids about that rib placement.

Next we went out to the beach for some fun time, and we also made some beach art.


The last day of camp arrived with all of the usual running around, but on this day we actually cut the running aound short (GASP!) so we could get out to Kinsey beach for some exciting tide pooling. We ended up having a very successful trip, with a large Gumboot chiton, and a massive Sea lemon as our prizes to bring back to the exhibit.

Then we ended the week with a bang, literally. We made volcanoes on the beach. Each camper, or team of campers, tried to create the largest sand volcano. Then they chose their favorite lava color, and we erupted them one at a time (for optimum destruction, of course). One camper even stopped his volcano building for a seconed to inform Jess and I that he was, in fact, a sand-building champion. He went on to tell us that he was going to have to win this competition to help pay his mortgage!

I am really going to miss the camp season, and I had a great time. There are so many stories to tell, and even more memories to enjoy. If the campers had even 1/10th of the fun I did, then I bet it was the best thing they did all summer.

Summer Salutations,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Junior Explorers 2011- A Photo and Video Essay

 Junior Explorers is a half day camp for children ages 5-7.  This blog's intention is to give you a little visual insight into some of our adventures.  Enjoy!


Singing about a gray whale and making orca noises!


Before we visited the touch tanks, Valerie told us about some of the animals
we might see.  In the picture above we are all pretending to be crabs that just molted
and are waiting for their new shells to harden.

Heather encourages Campers to touch!
We explored and learned about animals that live under the floating dock.


The woods are always full of surprises.  During camp we observed deer, birds,
bugs, a banana slug, and even a family of river otters!


We became salmon and went on a journey.  In the top photograph we began life as an egg.  We grew larger and stronger and eventually headed out to the open ocean.  There we faced many obstacles, including a dam and predators (bottom photograph).  Eventually, we returned to our native stream where we laid eggs and died.

Salmon depend on a healthy stream at the beginning and end of their lives. Above are 29 interpretations of what a healthy stream should look like. What might a healthy stream look like to you?


Our time of Friday was devoted to the tidepools. 
We strapped on our boots (many of us still managing to get wet) and EXPLORED.
 Just a little glimpse into our Summer,
Heather and Valerie

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marine Biology Day Camp

Thirty-one budding marine biologists participated in Marine Biology Day Camp July 25-29th. Chris and I, along with Nancy Israel, Claudia Padilla and counselors Duncan and Andrew worked to create a fun-filled week all about the marine environment. Campers learned about local marine invertebrates and fish, the diversity of plankton in Puget Sound, the effects of plastic on the marine environment, orcas families and how they communicate and so much more.
Campers learned about echolocation and experienced the
difficulty of catching prey by sound, not sight.
Although some of our time was spent inside, we spent a lot of time outside exploring! The lessons were mixed with a beach scavenger hunt, a beach walk and clean-up and even building an orca whale to scale on the beach! It was amazing to see this group work together and help each other to create such a beautiful sand orca. 
The whole group with our 24-foot sand orca

On our beach walk, the campers got really into looking for
nurdles (small pre-production plastic pellets)

Towards the end of the week, we took a field trip to the railroad trestle beach to explore the sandy tide flat habitat. Campers rotated through four different stations; beach seining for fish, clamming, sieving for worms and exploring the breakwater. 
Digging for clams

On Friday, we put all our marine life learning to the test! We explored the tidepools at Kinzie Beach and found all sorts of marine invertebrates including gumboot chitons, porcelain crabs, six-ray stars and even a striped sunstar! While eating snack on Kinzie beach, we were privileged to see a bald eagle swoop down right in front of us and catch a fish! After lunch, Chrissy led us in a beach seine. Chrissy set the 150-foot net with a row boat and then all the campers helped pull the net into shore. Even though some kelp got wrapped around part of the net, we were still able to catch a lot of fish. Campers helped to identify gunnels, sculpins, perch and crabs, as well as help release most of the fish back to their eelgrass habitat. 
Tidepooling at Kinzie Beach

Pulling in the seine net

Keeping the lead-line (bottom of the net) as close to the ground
and possible to keep the fish in the net

Admiring the fish we caught
Both campers and staff had an amazing week learning about the marine environment, playing games and exploring the beaches of Fort Worden.
The whole group on our beach walk

Julia Ledbetter
Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What lies in the lines?

Have you ever wondered who lives in our pipes at the marine science center? Yeah, we never gave much thought to it either, until one day when the flow to our touch tanks stopped. We were forced to look for a reason why and found an entire ecosystem thriving in our pipes. After taking out nearly half a bucket of marine critters in three feet of line, water began to flow again in the tanks. Lets meet the critter cast that so often calls our pipes home.
The bucket full of critters!
Imagine all those critters growing in a four inch pipe!

Marine Worms

Giant Barnacles

Gooseneck Barnacles

Clumps of mussels and barnacles

So what makes our pipes a great place for these marine critters? Maybe it's because of the free buffet of plankton that comes through our pipes every second, the cheap rent or the protection they get from being enclosed in plastic.

Valerie Lindborg and Kelsee our guest blogger
Lab Coordinator