Thursday, July 31, 2008

Courageous Charlestown meets Piers Park Sailing Center

Hi! Today at Piers Park we had an awesome time when a few boats from Courageous Boston Harbor Explorers in Charlestown came and visited Piers Park Sailing Center! Although Laura and her crew came by to get bait from our freezer, they also brought by a lobster, which we don't catch very often at Piers Park. Everyone was excited by both our human and crustacean visitors. We also had a great time showing all the kids from Charlestown our huge red rock crabs we spent all day catching. It was a great experience for everyone to see that all across Boston Harbor people are getting involved learning about the environment and restoration of the harbor in our backyards!


Team Quahog!

Greetings from Harry McDonough
This week it was all about Northern Sea Stars and digging for Quahogs to use as bait. Yea Team Quahog! Not sure what a quahog is? It can also be called a chowder clam or a hard clam. We had a lot of fun searching in the waters off the beach for these clams and we definitely got wet in doing so. These hard clams tend to bury themselves in
the sand and sometimes just a small piece is visible.

Northern Sea Star hunting was on the agenda every day this week. We found an area just before the bridge at Pleasure Bay where lots of big sea stars live. We even found one that was eating a mussel. Before bringing them back to our touch tank we had some fun sticking them all over our bodies! Here to the right is a picture of the 3 Save the Harbor educators with our sea star findings. ~ Kat

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mad Scientists!

The kids in Quincy this week had the opportunity to try their hand at some science experiments.  Everyone put on gloves and safety glasses before beginning our experiment.  Safety first!  We took the air and water temperature and recorded our information in our log book. 

Using the water quality testing kit, we were able to measure the pH of the water at Black's Creek as well as some puddles in the parking lot.  
We found that the rain found in the puddle was more acidic than the water in the creek!  Next, we used pH paper to test other liquids in the area.  The Gatorade turned the pH paper bright pink, showing that it was acidic.  On the other hand, the bleach turned the pH paper dark blue, proving that it is basic.  Everyone enjoyed comparing the pH of all the liquids.  I think we may be creating some scientists!!


Catching Lobsters

At the dock of Courageous in Charlestown we were able to catch a 4lb lobster as well as two smaller ones. Using a haddock as bait we also caught over 70 green and red rock crabs. We had a great time racing the lobsters and putting them to sleep. What a catch!

From the Green Boat we continued to measure the turbidity of the harbor with the use of a seccchi disk as well as taking sea surface temperature and hydrometer readings. Fishing off the boat is one of my favorite activities.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

All Access Boston Harbor + Art

Every morning at All Access Boston Harbor, the kids joining us have a chance to make their mark on one of our hand-drawn murals depicting a scene from Boston Harbor. Check out a few of these murals below.

Soundwaves 2008

This Saturday, I had the awesome opportunity to go on Soundwaves 2008. Supported by Mass Bay Lines, Soundwaves 2008 is a Blues festival to support Save the Harbor. We left Rowes Wharf at about noon, and almost immediately began enjoying the Blues music played on our ferry. After only a half hour, the boat reached Spectacle Island, where dozens of other boats showed up to dock and anchor and enjoy the music. Even people who were visiting the island to go to the beach had a great time coming up the pier and getting close to the music. Later that day, Aimee and I walked down the wrackline of Spectacle Island, checking out all the razor clam shells, sea glass, and animals that had washed up on the beach. We even saw a really unique-looking bird, which we later identified as an Oystercatcher. Getting back on the boat, we headed back to downtown Boston as many boats followed us, enjoying the last of the music on the trip home. Spectacle Island has come a long way from its days as a city dump and is now a truly incredible place to visit.


Monday, July 28, 2008


My name is Bruce Berman, and I direct the youth programs at Save the Harbor / Save the Bay.

Here is a picture that I took (with my digital camera)of the underwater camera on my boat "The Verandah" on Boston Harbor: It's just like the underwater cameras we use during our Harbor Explorers program, only I have hooked it up to my TV...

Any ideas about what is happening in this shot?

See you on the Harbor.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Rain Day and Exploring Spectacle Island

Hi, my name is Laura and this week we did not let a little rain bring down the Harbor Explorers Program at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown. On Thursday we were able to have a guided tour of the USS Cassin Young, a destroyer that the Navy used during World War II. We also still managed to check on the lobster traps on the docks and bring some crabs back up to the main tent.
On Friday, we used the cruising boats to venture to Spectacle Island. We had a great view of several of the harbor islands, our favorites being Deer Island and Castle Island. We anchored the boats and swam ashore, noticing all of the creatures on the beach. We encountered many snails, and found that humming causes them to come out of their shells.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stormy Piers Park

At Piers Park on Thursday, we had a very interesting day. A huge storm was on the forecast and we were unsure if we would even be able to get down to the dock at all. After a game of capture the flag with the sailing kids, the Harbor Explorers got their lifejackets on and grabbed some crab traps, and we decided we would test the weather the best we could. The first thing we did was check the lobster trap, and luckily there was one waiting for us. He was way too small (the legal limit is three and a quarter inches), but it was an exciting – and encouraging – way to start out the day. We ended up catching tons of green crabs and red rock crabs the rest of the day, with our eye constantly on the sky to see if the storm would ever move in. As noon rolled around, we headed back upstairs to the tent, broke down our gear, and got some lunch from the Piers Park Sailing Center’s free lunch program. No sooner were we in the tent then it started to rain! Looks like the weather was on our side on Thursday!


Adventures at Camp Harbor View

Hi, my name is Basima and I work with Save the Harbor Save the Bay as a program assistant. While at Camp Harbor View, I led four weeks of fishing and four weeks of fun. The campers in our fishing club learned how to be responsible and respected fishermen. Long walks along the beach and participating in activities such as scavenger hunts, fishing, and crab catching filled each afternoons.

With the use of buckets , nets, crab traps, and fishing rods, campers found a new hobby in finding Asian Shore Crabs, holding Moon Jellies and catching Striped Bass . I enjoy working with the campers on the dock teaching them about casting and the joy of fishing while catching a good breeze. The excitement and humor of the campers made my four weeks memorable.

Crabs, tunicates and skeleton shrimp...Oh My!!

In Dorchester this week, we headed to the docks with our crab traps and nets hoping to find lots of life in the water below. Everyone enjoyed bringing up the traps to see if any crabs were enticed by our bait. The hardest part is picking up the crab out of the trap to put in the bucket. In this picture on the right, we are grabbing the green crab by it's shell so it cannot reach us with its claws. By the end of our session, we were successful in catching about 15 green crabs!

While waiting for our traps to settle, we took nets and scraped the side of the dock. We were amazed to see all the different things living under the dock and on the pilings. We found blue mussels, skeleton shrimp, sea squirts, golden star and orange sheath tunicates. Who knew that we would find so many fouling organisms growing right beneath us!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crabbing with Mussels

Hi, my name is Senait Adugna, I am a Youth Program Assistant for the Harbor Explorers Program at the Harry McDonough Site. (I'm wearing the blue shirt in the picture at right.) We do a lot of activities with the kids, such as crabbing and fishing. We catch many Spider crabs, Red Rock crabs, Asian Shore crabs, and Green crabs by using mussels as bait. The kids really enjoy finding and smashing the mussels. We spend most of the time crabbing and they don't get tired of it.

Sometimes we walk to the bridge to fish. I enjoy teaching the kids how to cast. We don't always have the best of luck, however, last week we caught two small fish. I enjoy working at this site because the kids always have great questions and I love being able to answer them.

The "In-Seine" Net

It has been another exciting week at Harry McDonough. We focused on filling our newly donated fish tank with all kinds of crazy critters. It's fun to see how all the different animals in the tank interact with one another, some get along while some don't. Most of the crabs end up competing for food.

This week was our first week using a Seine Net. A Seine Net is a long net with two wooden poles on either end. As you can see in the photograph, we pull the net through the water as we walk towards the beach. Once we reach the beach we take a look in the net to see what we can find. We discovered all kinds of interesting animals such as Sculpin, Shiners, Rock Gunnels, and Sand Shrimp! All these animals and more went into our fish tank for the day.

All Access Boston Harbor

Hi, my name is Darius, and I’m also part of the All Access Boston Harbor Program. Every morning I wake up, brush my teeth, wash up, and travel to the Bank of America Pavilion. Once I get there I stand and greet the groups. When all 200 visitors arrive we get on the boat called the Virginia C. It’s a 45 minute boat ride from here to George’s Island. During lunch I turn red because the sun is so bright. After lunch I take some kids kite flying along the beach. Most of these kids have never been kite flying before and it’s my job to teach them no matter how hard it is. In order to get the kite flying there needs to be wind, once the wind starts blowing, the kite usually flies itself. We fly kites all afternoon until the boat leaves the dock at 2:00 pm.

Hi, my name is Frankie, and I’m a Junior Marine Educator for the All Access Boston Harbor Program. Everyday I take out 200 people, children and adults, to George’s Island. I walk the wrackline everyday with the kids to find crabs, shells, and other animals living near the shore. Last week we caught close to 20 Asian Shore crabs, 2 Red Rock crabs, and tons of Green crabs. On the walk back to the boat the kids and I enjoy skipping rocks. We usually have a contest to see who can get the most skips. I enjoy each and everyday and wouldn’t trade this job for anything.

From the Docks

The dock at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown has a great array of different species. We have been testing the turbidity and pH levels of water, as well as experimenting to see which types of bait will catch the most lobsters. I guess they like haddock, because yesterday we caught two lobsters both over 3lbs!!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

BHE at Camp Harbor View and Quincy Rec

Hi! My name is Aimee and I lead the Harbor Explorers at Quincy and Camp Harbor View.

Aimee and two Harbor View Campers
At Camp Harbor View, we utilize the beautiful new pier to go fishing in the afternoon. Last week, a boy who had never fished before caught a 21-inch striped bass! At low tide, the kids love to have crab hunts and one group found over 30 asian shore crabs this week. While walking the wrack line on Long Island, the explorers have found a moon snail's egg case, hermit crabs, mud snails, mussels, conch shells, and even sea urchin shells. You never know what kind of marine life you will find at Camp Harbor View!

At Black's Creek in Quincy, our explorers enjoy searching for green crabs, horseshoe crabs, and many other forms of marine life. Using crab traps and bait, we've caught some large green crabs off the docks. The kids can identify the green crabs by the 5 spines on either side of its eyes. With the dipping nets, the explorers have excelled at finding small silversides and amphipods. Each day poses a challenge to catch something new and learn more about the organisms that reside in Black's Creek.

For more information on the program, you should check out our Kids Page. Or, feel free to add your own stories from Quincy or Camp Harbor View n in the comments!

Friday, July 18, 2008

All Access Boston Harbor

David talking about Boston Harbor

Hello, my name is David, and I'm the host for All Access Boston Harbor for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.

Today we had a very full boat with excited kids from all around the Boston neighborhoods, some of whom had never before been on a boat. There were quite a few more who were going out to Georges Island for the first time as well. Every day there are always many "firsts" and I try to identify them whenever possible. We saw the usual lobster boats on the way out to the island and, of course, Castle Island and Spectacle Island were still where they were the day before.

Once we got to Georges and everyone had their lunches many of us set off to explore the massive Fort Warren that encompasses the island. While we were looking for the infamous "Lady in Black" in the dark tunnel others were down on the beach with Laura looking for crabs and jelly fish, and anything else along the wrack line (high tide line) that one might find on any given day. Frankie had a group of kids with several of our kites high overhead, perhaps also looking for the "Lady in Black" from above?

McDonough Sailing Center

Kat shows an Explorer how to tie a lure

Hi, my name is Kat, I lead the Harbor Explorers program at the Harry McDonough Sailing Center in South Boston and the All Access program at the Bank of America Pavillon. I take the sailing students out on a variety of excursions in and around Pleasure Bay. The Bay is a very diverse site with so much to do and home to some of the largest spider crabs around.

We begin each day by taking the motor boat out to check our lobster trap. This week we caught three lobsters and 5 red rock crabs in the trap. All the animals we find throughout the day go into our touch tank, where we can identify and watch them interact. Yesterday we saw two green crabs fighting over a mussel. At the end of each day we record what we find and return them to the bay.

The Harbor Explorers had a chance this week to test the water quality of the bay using a variety of methods. We tested the dissolved oxygen in our touch tank, which told us how much oxygen the animals used by the end of the day.

For more information on the program, you should check out our Kids Page. Or, feel free to add your own stories from Harry McDonough Sailing Center in the comments!

East Boston

Hi, I'm Pat, and I lead the Harbor Explorers program in East Boston at Piers Park Sailing Center. We begin each day hauling up the lobster trap, which although may not always have a lobster, is always full of Green and Red Rock Crabs. We pass the crabs around to all twenty or so kids so that everyone can see them and tell whether they're male or female, based on the pattern on the bottom of their shells.

This week, in addition to crabbing with mussels and hot dogs for bait, we used our underwater camera. Some kids were very creative, and dropped the camera right next to one crab trap, planning to snatch up the trap at the first sign of a crab. Not only were they successful, but we also got a great view of some minnows chomping on the baited trap!

I'm also in charge of the Harbor explorers program at Constitution Beach in East Boston. Here, we work with kids from the East Boston YMCA to do walks up and down the beach, finding different shells and creatures stranded at low tide in the wrackline. It's also an incredible spot for finding steamer clams! On Tuesday, the kids put all their clams together at the end of the day and counted nearly 120!

Finally, I run the Harbor Explorers program at Winthrop beach Wednesday afternoons. There, we do wrackline rocks (where pieces of lobsters and enormous mussel shells are very common) and venture into the rocky tide pools to look for hermit crabs, green crabs, and the occasional sea worm.

For more information on the program, you should check out our Kids Page. Or, feel free to add your own stories from Piers Park, Constitution Beach, or Winthrop Beach in the comments!


Searching for Terns

Laura and and Explorer on the dock
Hi, my name is Laura, and I lead the Harbor Explorers Program at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown. Throughout the week, I lead the Green Boat out on expeditions to various sites in Boston Harbor to learn about the marine environment.

This week we focused on birds in Boston Harbor, searching for terns and cormorants. We also took the water temperature, and looked for plankton using a plankton tow.

Every day at lunchtime, I help the explorers pull up crab and lobster traps, which often have sea stars, lobsters and crabs of all varieties. I also brought fishing rods down to the dock, and at least 10 kids get to learn to fish every day.

For more information on the program, you should check out our Kids Page. Or, feel free to add your own stories from Courageous Charlestown in the comments!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Courageous Charlestown

Jenny and the kids pull up the crab trap. After the trap was pulled up Jenny watches as the kids explore the trap.They were very interested in what they would find. They found mostly male Red Rock crabs and sea stars. The kids also spot lots of moon jelly fish near the dock.

After pulling up the second or third crab trap of the day we found two more sea stars. And they were not all that small. When we first picked them up they felt as if they had shells. After a while in our hands they started to look and feel squishy. They were really cool to just let sit in your hand and watch.

When we found interesting and cool animals inside of the crab traps we thought the kids would enjoy looking at and holding we put them into a bucket and brought it up to the kids.The kids really liked seeing all of the different animals. They seemed to really like all of the Red Rock crabs and the Moon Jelly fish.

The kids even enjoyed touching the giant dead fish before we cut it up to put pieces of the fish into the crab traps. Even though the fish was dead they still found it interesting and enjoyable.

Our second or third crab trap and we already found six huge lobsters in one trap. Along with some Red Rock crabs. But the trap had more lobsters inside of it than anything else. It was so cool just to pull up the crab trap and see all of the lobsters just waiting to get out.

Getting to hold the Moon Jelly fish was really fun. They were so squishy and fun. The kids enjoyed knowing that they would not sting them. So they weren't afraid to touch and hold the jelly fish.

When we pulled up most of the traps we mostly found Red Rock crabs. We fond some females but mostly males. Most of the time we found them to be mostly the same size. But we did find some of the crabs to be alot smaller or a whole lot bigger and more mean than others.

Along with all of the normal sized Red Rock crabs the kids also spotted really small crabs on the deck usually after pulling up a crab trap. They really liked when they found little tiny crabs. They liked being able to hold them in the palms of there hands and not being scared because these crabs didn't have big pinchers.