Marine Biology camp started off this year with two fun activities- campers printed their t-shirts using an actual fish, and out on the dock we collected plankton samples to look at in the lab under a microscope. We ended the day with a scavenger hunt on the beach, where campers looked for signs of animal and plant life, as well as elusive nurdles!
On Tuesday we started the morning in our Marine Exhibit, learning about the animals in our touch tanks- some of which we’d see later that day on the beach! One focus was the identifying characteristics of four major marine phyla- Cnidaria, Echinodermata, Arthropoda and Mollusca!
Before we headed out to the tidepools, everyone gathered together to feed Maddie the Giant Pacific Octopus. More than one camper shouted “release the kraken” when we gave Maddie a couple herring on a toy boat which she gleefully capsized for our entertainment.
After hunting for animals in the tidepools, we took a walk down the beach collecting trash as we went. Everyone got very eager to find some garbage when they heard there would be a prize!
We left the Marine Science Center on Wednesday for a field trip to some nearby mudflats, where campers rotated between digging up clams, sieving for worms, netting fish, and illustrating the animals they’d seen so far in their journals. One group dug up 92 clams!
On Thursday our campers got to participate in a model of a marine food chain with plankton, herring, salmon, harbor seals and orcas. Of course, everyone wanted to be an orca! This set up our class on biomagnification, and we all learned that life at the top isn’t always so great when there are toxics in the water accumulating up the food chain.
The highlight of the day was using a 150-foot seine net to catch and examine animals living in an eelgrass bed just off shore. Everyone worked together to haul the net on to the beach. We collected the animals into a pool and examined juvenile salmon, fried-egg jellyfish, silverspot sculpins, and many more! All of the fish were then released back into the water.
On our last day together our campers got a chance to take an up-close look inside a fish during the herring dissection- although not everyone wanted to get that close! We learned how a herring’s organ systems work together to help the herring survive. We also worked as a team to reassemble the skeleton of a juvenile gray whale, comparing his bones to our own.
For our final activity together, everyone got to vote and pick a whale for our life-size sand sculpture on the beach! The winner was a 16 foot beluga whale, and our campers worked together to build it with buckets of wet sand. It was a great way to conclude the camp, and an example of how everyone worked together all week to help make camp fun and interesting!
A big thank-you to all our wonderful campers for a great week, we hope to see you next year!
-Carolyn Woods (Intern & Camp Counselor)