This past week I have twice taken advantage of the fact that I live very near the Pacific coast. Saturday I went hiking in Point Reyes on what turned out to be a cloudy morning and today, in much better weather, I helped chaperone a field trip organized by my teacher friend Amber to take her students tidepooling at Half Moon Bay.
For the coastally challenged, “tidepooling” essentially means walking along the coast during low tide and looking at all the lifeforms that are underwater during high tide. For Amber’s students, they had to take a two foot square of the tide pools and record all the lifeforms they saw, including sea stars, anemones, urchins, mussels, algae, and barnacles. Because this beach is not a protected area, the students’ data is actually used (along with data collected from lots of field trips) to determine if it should be protected in the future.
I think it’s awesome that the kids get this opportunity. Growing up in the middle of the country, a field trip to the ocean wasn’t ever on the radar for me. Before we left, some of the kids were actually complaining about having to go — one even remarked that she thought a trip to the science museum would be more fun. Science museums are great, but I’d rather see marine biology in its actual native habitat over a science museum aquarium. At the end of the trip, I caught up with the same student and she agreed that the beach was pretty cool and much more fun than she expected.
As I often do, I toted along the camera and took a bunch of pictures…