Saturday, July 31, 2010

touched by, or touching, wildlife

Hannah, left, and Nora, right, caught their first fish at Blacks Creek on Tuesday—but this baby cunner was only two inches long! Hannah swept it up in her net, not on a fishing rod, and invited her cousin, Nora, to take a look at her prized catch. After about thirty seconds of encouragement, Nora gently took the fish into her own hands. In her palm, however, Nora noticed the tiny fish struggling to breathe out of water; feeling guilty, she plunged it back into the creek, but not before I was able to snap this endearing photograph.

I want to thank all of the Boston Harbor Explorers at the William F. Ryan Sailing Center in Quincy—you’re a daring bunch, never afraid to venture knee-deep into environmental exploration!


Come on, what are you afraid of?

Certainly not a tiny, soft-shell Asian Shore Crab without claws! Getting Renee, a dedicated member of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s fishing club at Camp Harbor View, to pick up even this harmless crab took a week of coaxing and convincing. Once Renee held his first crab, however, there was no holding him back—later that same afternoon, he courageously clasped a Red Rock Crab, pincers and all!

Camp Harbor View is an invaluable asset to the City of Boston, and I’m proud to have been a part of its tight-knit community for the past two weeks. CHV brings together young people from all parts of Boston, from every imaginable background—everyone from Alejandro, a Cape Verdean whose uncle is a professional crab fisherman, to Renee, who had never seen a live crab before he peered into his first tidal pool at camp.

It’s only natural, therefore, that campers’ reactions to coastal wildlife vary widely. Renee, for instance, made it fairly clear that he was afraid of crabs—the fact that he jumped onto my back, screaming, when half a dozen Asian Shore Crabs scuttled out from under a rock hinted at his phobia. Renee overcame his fear, slowly and deliberately, over the course of the week he spent exploring Long Island’s rocky coast at low tide. By the last day of our session, he was confident enough to pick up the crab in this first picture—but not without a trace of his former terror!

Renee’s expression captures just some of the awe that we experience, campers and counselors alike, exploring the natural beauty along Camp Harbor View’s shores. I wish Renee, and every other camper I met during my weeks at Harbor View, many more inspiring wildlife interactions in the future!


Eating Invaders

Invasive species often flourish in their new habitats because their natural predators do not make the trip with them. Without predators to keep their numbers in check, species like the Green Crab and the Asian Shore Crab experience population explosions. Green Crabs abound on the rocky New England coast because their ability to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions allows them to evade predators by moving to more or less salty water than their pursuer can tolerate (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife). The fact that no native species can effectively control the Green Crab population means that there is an ecological niche just waiting to be filled—something, or someone, has to eat Green Crabs to give native crab species a chance.

Presented with an opportunity to help restore Boston Harbor’s ecological balance while balancing my food budget, I decided to try my hand at “culinary population control.” With the help of the intrepid Boston Harbor Explorers at the Harry McDonough Sailing Center in South Boston, I collected about a dozen of the largest Green Crabs we could catch. Although most Green Crabs measure about two inches from one end of their carapace to the other, the gargantuan specimens we encountered at Southie were three inches wide, on average. Although huge by Green Crab standards, our giants couldn’t compare to the Rock Crabs that most people choose to eat. At best, the bag of seething legs, claws and shells would be enough for an appetizer that my friends and housemates had never tried before.

My friend Al, another adventurous eater, helped me prepare my first batch of steamed crabs. Our recipe, if you can even call it that, was stunningly simple: place crab in steamer, cover, wait, remove, consume. My first impressions of the crabmeat were fairly positive, but it quickly dawned on us that even the most massive Green Crab is miniscule by human standards; five minutes or so of digging through exoskeleton yielded only a few precious morsels. The Green Crabs also had a very strong, very particular flavor; similar to cooked lobster, but a lot fishier, and a bit brinier. I can imagine Green Crab bisque tasting excellent, but on their own they’re much more of a workout, hunting for bits of meat, than a treat.

I can’t tell you how Green Crabs compare to Rock Crabs yet because I haven’t eaten “regular” crabs before. I grew up vegetarian, and only started eating meat a year and a half ago—crabs, at least the kind you buy in a supermarket, have yet to make it onto the list of animals I’ve sampled. I hope to buy a few soon and, with a soon-to-be-revealed secret recipe from Bruce Berman, compare my experiences eating invasive and native crab species. Until then, I can only recommend that the adventurous eaters out there join me in experimenting with the perfect Green Crab recipe.

Together, we can enrich our tables and our Harbor!


One Awesome Staff

Hello all! I had a great second week in South Boston, Dorchester, and the Boston Children's Museum. I would definitely stay at these sites for the rest of the summer if I could, but I'm also SO excited to move forward and see what Quincy and Camp Harbor View are all about. I know they'll bring their own amazing memories to what is already an unforgettable summer.

While there are so many aspects of my job this summer that get better and better with each passing week, there's one aspect I'm growing particularly fond of--- and that's getting to build great relationships with my co-workers and to see how much they are growing as individuals this summer. We have a great set of seasoned college assistants, and a talented, bright group of junior assistants, including many MLK Summer Scholars. We span a decade in our ages (pictured, you can see our youngest staffer, Timmy "The Kid" Grogan, holding our biggest catch of the summer so far), we live in various Boston neighborhoods, and, besides the Harbor, we have our own interests and hobbies. Regardless of our different backgrounds, however, I really felt us come together in the last two weeks. Now that we've finished up Week 4 and are heading into Week 5, almost everyone has gotten to work together at the different sites, and we've all comfortably settled in to working with one another. And now that we've all had several chances to see what works at the different sites, we're learning from each other's best practices. It's also great to see the younger staffers take on so much responsibility with such ease and confidence, so much so that I am completely comfortable with taking a step back and letting them steer the day in their own personal direction. I am proud to work alongside such a great group.

I was especially impressed with Mark Rose this week, who took on the responsibility of setting up and using our new underwater camera in South Boston. As the kids gathered around to monitor a submerged crab trap for signs of an unsuspecting victim, Mark ran the show; and if the camera started to act up, Mark diagnosed and remedied the problem like a pro. I'm blessed to be surrounded by talented people like Mark, passionate people like LaToya, hilarious people like Conor and Tom, and many other staffers with strengths of their own, all summer. Everyone brings something different to the table. Dare I say it? I know I'm learning more from them than they are learning from me this summer.

Harbor Love,

This Week's Highlights

A great week overall—I felt like I’d really gotten into the swing of things for the Piers Park/

Courageous -Charlestown rotation, and it was great to be able to build on last week and enjoy the beautiful weather we had for most of the week with bright, enthusiastic campers!

A couple of highlights:

-Three lobsters at courageous!

-The Boston Fire Department’s FIREBOAT made a visit to Piers Park on Wednesday! Harbor Explorers joined the sailing campers to listen to the firefighters explain the workings of the boat, and talk about some of the fires they put out. The kids were excited to see the demo, and even more excited to get to try the salt-water fire hose!

-My first morning at the Children's Museum was a flying success -- as the morning progressed Connor and Timmy helped kids with rods and crab traps, quickly filling our touch tank with fish, crabs, mussels, & sea-squirts -- a huge hit with passing families!

-I got to practice my very rusty and VERY limited high school Spanish with some very patient campers at Piers Park; I remembered that fish is pez (pezcado, once it’s cooked) and learned that crab is cangerojo. These conversations got me thinking even more deliberately about how to communicate science most effectively, and reminded me to supplement my narratives with non-verbal teaching tools to better engage people from all back-grounds—native speakers included!

-We had several successful afternoons on the Green Boat @ Courageous – stay tuned for a post devoted to these adventures!

-A terrifically popular "Science Wednesday" collecting data on crabs and water quality!

I’m sad to leave these sites, but excited to experience the last two: Courageous-Dorchester and Southie!

Enjoy you’re weekend—and try to get out on the harbor!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Camp Harbor View

On Wednesday at Camp Harbor View, the kids were eager to learn how to fish. Some of the kids love fishing and taught others how to cast and put bait on the hooks. Most of them had went fishing before and had a contest to see who would be the first one to catch a fish. On the dock all of us would joke around and have fun, but learn at the same time. I was surprised at how many crabs we caught with the crab trap. There were at least over fifteen crabs in the bucket. Some of the kids did not want to hold nor touch the crabs because of the pinchers. I would show them how to properly pick them up, and ask them which crabs were invasive. From the time that I had been there, the kids had more knowledge and were learning much more. They were even more excited about casting. I would try to be more fun by asking them who can cast the farthest. When someone was having problems casting,I would teach them the basics like knowing how to hold the rod so it won't go flying in the water. It was a pleasure to be with the kids at Camp Harbor View. They are always looking for something new and ready for exploring.


Scavenger Hunt

On Tuesday at Blacks Creek, Aaron, Alex, Dan, and I did a scavenger hunt to help the kids identify living creatures in the water. We split the kids into four groups and went on the beach to start the hunt. They were all excited because they love finding crabs and knowing if it was male or female. My group was scattered all over the beach to find whatever they can that was on the list. The group that won would have the pleasure of fishing. At the same time all groups were helping each other and learning as they went along. All the kids were getting along and asked each other questions. Most of the time they know the answer, but if they do not know they ask me or the other staff. The bonus point of the hunt was to find a horseshoe crab. The kids found at least three and were amused on how it looked. They would ask questions about the tail, and how many eyes it had. They would pick it up and count how many legs it had. I had a girl named Mary-Kate measure the horseshoe crab she had. She named it "Bubbles" because it had small shells on it's back, and it looked like bubbles. Her face lit up when she found it and showed it to her friends. It was the capture of the week and it was a great day.


"Zorro" feet!

No, my feet haven't been slashed by a masked bandit-- they've just seen a LOT of sun this summer! The sandal tan on my feet provides clear evidence that I'm working outside this summer... and it has, on more than one occasion, given me the opportunity to introduce my work with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. A typical conversation goes something like this:
Friend: "What happened to your feet??"
Me: "I, uh, work outside... teaching with this incredible environmental education program called Boston Harbor Explorers run by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay..." [explanation of how awesome SHSB is]
Friend: "So do you ever take your shoes off?"
Me: "Apparently not."

Fortunately, I love my Chacos-- not nearly as much as I love the work that I do, but my shocking strap tan is a welcome reminder of how much time I get to spend outside with my friends, both young and old, at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay.

Sun and Sandals,

Reflecting along the Fort Point Channel

Today started out beautifully, as I walked along the Fort Point Channel from South Station to the Boston Children's Museum. Along the walk I made time to stop and observe my surroundings. It was low tide and I could see the bottom of the channel was filled with seaweed, pilings, rocks and odd pieces I could not make out. I started to wonder when the Tea Party Museum would start construction, so I could give the participants of Fishing 101 a better time frame. The Boston Tea Party Museum will be a great addition to the Fort Point Channel.

After a rather short reflection on the Channel, I quickly moved myself to set up for fishing 101 at the Boston Children's Museum. I was rather early to the site today, which allowed me some time to observe the pier before it became crowded. A businessman on his laptop, a mother with her son chasing the gulls, and a Boston Children's Museum staff member who helps me every morning. This gentleman is always excited about our work and stays involved with our daily catch. This morning we had some time to reflect on the marine life and Fort Point Channel progress and future. He always has advice for me about the fish!

Once the Save the Harbor Staff arrived I knew today was going to be a success. Although no live worms were available, we had Bologna and bagels to bait our traps and hooks. Unfortunately I could not stay for the Fishing 101 excitement today, but I knew Emily, Conor, and Tim would hold down the fort.

As I walked away from the Fort Point Channel, I hope for a touch tank full of surprises. A few hours later I was informed of a fish filled day at the Museum. Crabs and cunners were the stars of the day and no worms were needed. Great Job everyone and lets do it again on Monday.
- Jennifer Last

A Day of Firsts

After several weeks of working for Save the Harbor Save the Bay's summer youth program and about 8 days of working at Camp Harbor View, I finally bore witness to my season's first fishing success. Apparently the fish decided to make up for their absence over the past few weeks because they truly came with a bang. It was the first day we had gone and bought bait and not procured our own by means of the food chain: using mussels to catch crabs and crabs to catch fish. I believe we came to this decision after our failed attempt at using a pack of 80 hot dogs ended up with the kids simply throwing about 70 of them into the water to the sea gulls. Immediately upon dropping our sea worms and clams into the water came the bites. A few cudder were pulled up right away. Not very big but still great to catch anything. I then got to see Aaron catch his first fish ever! And it was not just a fish, but a skate, which all the children chose to conveniently ignore and refer to as a sting ray. It was great to be able to see that. A touch tank full of crabs and fish is truly more entertaining than one with just the former and some sea weed. The atmosphere quickly became highly energized out on that pier at Camp Harbor View. Success

-Dan Kenary

A Champ of a Crustacean

Last Friday at Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, and after several days of vacant attempts, we managed to pull up a lobster. It was the source of great entertainment throughout the afternoon. However, it was soon made apparent that this was not going to be your routine catch-and-release. Upon zip-tying the claws shut, I was instructed to hold onto the lobster throughout the afternoon and bring it for a touch tank at The Reading Night in South Boston. I had a Dr.'s appointment at the hospital that day to get my cast off, for which I had just learned, this dear lobster would be accompanying me. This lobster was placed in a large Tupperware with about half an inch of water and put in the trunk of my car. I then drove off en route to Newton Wellesley Hospital. About 10 minutes into my drive and after aggressively weaving through Charlestown streets, I was stopped at a red light before getting onto the Mass Pike and suddenly recalled that this creature was in my car. I got out of the car and opened the trunk to make sure that it had not fallen victim to my ignorance. All was swell and I arrived at the hostpital parking in the large garage. However, unbeknown to me, this would be a long visit. In between my getting the cast off and being fitted for a splint, I decided to duck out to make sure that this lobster had not been fully boiled and cooked without anyone's intention of being eaten. It was fine but wouldn't be for long so I made the decision to drive to a Mcdonalds on Rt. 128 and casually retrieve several handfuls of ice from the vending machine. I did not even bother to explain to employees why I could possibly be doing this. I made a few trips in and out so I imagine it appeared very bizarre but I had bigger fish to fry, no pun intended. Anyway, I believe that the lobster enjoyed a relative degree of comfort over the next few hours until we arrived in South Boston at which point it would be picked up and inspected by dozens of children over the course of 2 hours. I am proud to say that my dear friend performed like a champ. He made it through the event and to my great pleasure, was able to walk away with the world ahead of him upon release. I can only imagine how he would attempt to fathom his most recent afternoon.

-Dan Kenary

Rain or Shine

I woke up yesterday and looked out my window. All I saw was grey and white. Dark, ominous clouds hung over my head on my commute to Quincy. The whole train ride over I hoped for clearer skies and feared thunder and lightning. I was not worried about the dangers of the crash and roll of a thunderstorm but I was worried about what thunder would prevent us from doing. Luckily, no thunder or lightning came our way. We got rain instead. This would have thwarted most people from wading int the shallows of Blacks Creek but not us. After finding shelter for a little while we jumped right in. Some kids were scouring for hermit crabs and green crabs, while others fished for minnows off the dock. Soon enough the sun began to peek through the clouds, just in time for Camp Harbor View.

By the time we reached Long Island the sun was shining, a good omen for the rest of the day. And as fate would have it, nearly the very instant that the first hook was dropped in the water a fish was caught. First we caught a small cunner, blue and grey. A little while later the same camper caught another cunner. This one was red and orange, something I have never seen before. This hot streak continued until the afternoon at Camp Harbor View was over. By the end of the day we had caught 2 skates, 3 cunner and a sculpin


P.S. We got plenty of giant red rock crabs too.

Lucky Day!

When I woke up on July 29th I looked out the window to see cloudy skies and a pretty steady drizzle coming down. I thought to myself, well, I'm glad I'm in the office today. But then a few minutes later I received a call from Jen asking me to go out to Spectacle Island - and of course, I said yes. Though it started out raining as we got to the island the sun starting peeking out until by 12 o'clock it was hot enough to get many of the kids on the beach.
I've never explored Boston, let alone the Boston Harbor Islands and it is so nice to see so many kids getting the opportunity to go out and see the sights.

We took a group of kids to the sea glass beach. There we put down a large hula hoop and had the children find as much sea glass as they could in one hoop. They found more than I even anticipated. They were having so much fun dividing them into piles dependent on color, or if it was pottery. Their smiles lit up when they found a particularly big piece, or one of a color other than white. (There was a lot of white).
Here is a sketch of the kids searching:

Here is a picture of the kids searching, the actually picture:

I love Thi's drawing, I like how you don't even need to see the sea glass to understand how much fun the kids were having and how engaged they were for a least 45 minutes.

I love Spectacle Island and can't wait to go back!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

All Access Equals All Smiles

PhotobucketToday on All Access we went out to Spectacle Island. The kids were not too happy at first because of the rain, but as the day went on the weather cleared up. David Coffin gave the kids a history lesson about the island and they all were so excited to go out and see what the island had become over the years. The kids got off the boat and immediately went to go enjoy the beautiful island. One the island they were able to look for beach glass, go on a hike, fly kites and swim in the Boston Harbor. They had so much fun on the island and they all were happy to be out there and away from their usual lives. By the time the boat docked back at the Bank of America Pavilion the kids were all smiling since they had such a great day.

-BJ Clark

"I want you to do something today that you've never done before"

Each morning before going out on the boat with All Access, David Coffin says to the youth participants: “I want you to do something today that you’ve never done before”.

Everyday I have spent at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay I have had new experiences.

My name is Alize and I am a French Policy/Environment Intern at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. In less than a week, I have had the awesome opportunity to leave the office twice to go out with All Access. We went to two of the Boston Harbor Islands, Georges Island and Spectacle Island. I have never gone to any of Boston Harbor Islands before. New experience? Done.

Before the children arrived at the Bank of America Pavilion, Thi put a lobster on the touch tank so the children could see it. I’ve never grabbed a lobster before. New experience? Done.

The morning before Spectacle Island, it was not a lobster in the lobster trap, but a spider crab! I’ve never seen a spider crab that was alive before. New experience? Done. I’ve never grabbed a spider crab before. New experience? Done. I was more afraid than the children. Thi had to force me to grab each of these critters!

On the islands, I discovered new things along with the children. Walking on Fort Warren and going through the tunnels was really fun, and a bit impressive, I tried not to show that I was worried!

A phenomenon we observed with David while he was showing us the first lighthouse of America. Here in New England, lots of places are “the first”. That is quite crazy for me, as an European girl, to be able to say this is the “first” of your country!

On my second day out, I went to Spectacle Island which I really enjoyed. We went on the top of the hill with BJ and Thi. The view from there is so beautiful, you can see Boston, the other islands, and the planes landing on the Logan airport. I hope I can go back there and see this panorama again!

It was a windy day so we flew kites with the kids. It was the first time I handled a kite since… I don’t even remember when! I confess, the kids were doing so better than me! We have a lot of fun there. Luckily the boat was a little late, Thi and I even had the time to swim quickly before going back to Boston.

I must say, I was just like this kid. But I am 20.

I could easily see how the Boston Harbor is for everyone.


PS: Thanks Cassie for the editing!

A Day At The Races

After a long day at Southie, there's no better way to unwind than with a HIGH STAKES crab race! Thats right ladies and gentlemen, we have our crustaceans return to the wild by way of a high speed race. After collecting numerous green crabs, the campers and some counselors of Harry Mcdognah sailing center each selected a crab. The goal was to have your crab start from behind a set line and then race back to the blue green waters of the Sugar Bowl. There was much discussion on whether crabs missing legs would be slower then their counterparts, as well as the question whether larger crabs would be slower. I was compelled to enter the race on behalf of a young girl who was deathly afraid of holding a crab with no claws. Thus, I took a hold of my dare devil decapod named Sea biscuit and prepared for the competition. There I was, on the line next to my rivals. Michelle's promise to pay the for the winner's soft serve ice cream from Sulley's was ringing in my ears. I started the countdown and then the crabs were off. Well, I should say some of them took off, others simply remained sitting at the starting line. Sea biscuit was ahead at first but....he chose to back pedal and blow the lead in the end. Olivia's small crab blew by the others and after attempting to fall through a crack, was redirected towards the water. Thus, the race and the fun was brought to a close with the small green crab diving of the sea wall and into its briney sanctuary.

Reporting from Southie,

Conor Brendan Newman

Local Kids Set Sail for the Boston Harbor Islands with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay

During the month of July, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s All Access Boston Harbor program traveled from South Boston’s Bank of America Pavilion three times a week, taking over 100 kids each day from the diverse communities around Boston on an adventure to Georges or Spectacle Island to learn about the Boston Harbor and its diverse marine ecosystem.

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay offers this free marine education and recreation program to over 4,000 youths and over 130 community groups for all of the Boston neighborhoods and many of the surrounding communities.

The kids and teens get to experience Boston Harbor and the Boston Harbor Islands first hand. For many their first opportunity to visit the Harbor Islands as well as take a ride on a boat and have a fun educational experience.

The participants meet at Save the Harbor’s All Access Boston Harbor dockside and listen to stories from maritime historian David Coffin. He teaches the youth about the Harbor’s past and future. The kids then hop on the Virginia C. II for a narrated cruise to either Georges or Spectacle Island.

On Georges Island the youngsters get to explore Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort with eerie tunnels, real cannons and the haunted parade ground. Save the Harbor’s marine educators also lead beach walks and scavenger hunts for critters such as Asian Shore Crabs, Green Crabs, and Periwinkles, while teaching the young people about what it takes for these creatures to survive in a tidal habitat.

The Spectacle Island trip has a curriculum that is geared towards traditional seaside recreational activities like swimming, hiking, kite flying and fishing. Kids can fly kites, swim on the beach (staffed with a Department of Conservation and Recreation lifeguard), or can go for a hike around the island with our marine educators.

Whether chasing crabs on the shore on Georges Island or floating in the waters off Spectacle Island, youth participants in All Access Boston Harbor walk away with an experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.

“We are so glad to give this opportunity to the kids of Boston as well as the organizations we partner with, said Save the Harbor President Patricia Foley, “We are exposing them to a whole new world of opportunities.”

These free summer youth programs are made possible by the generous support of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s youth program funders; ABCD Summerworks, Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, Inc., Bank of American Pavilion/Live Nation, Clinton H. & Wilma T. Shattuck Charitable Trust, Connors Family Office, Dolphin Trust, Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trusts, Forrest Berkley & Marcie Tyre Berkley, Friedman Family Foundation, GDF SUEZ Gas NA LLC, JetBlue Airways, John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Massachusetts Bay Lines, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Port Authority, National Grid Foundation, P & G Gillette, State Street Foundation, South Boston Community Development Foundation, William E. & Bertha E. Schrafft Charitable Trust, and Yawkey Foundation II.

Hermits, Greens, and Horseshoes

Yesterday at Blacks Creek, the day started out slow. Everyone was wading along the shore, looking for and finding plenty of periwinkle snails and hermit crabs. We were all waiting for the first big catch. It was not long before the green crabs started popping up. Of course it is always exciting to get some real crabs but everyone wanted more. We scoured the black mud along the shore for a new catch. Some even ventured into the further waters past all the sailors from the William Ryan Sailing center. After some steadfast searching someone stumbled upon a magnificent find, a horseshoe crab. We named it Phillip. Soon after another horseshoe crab was found, this one named Mrs. Phillip. After everyone got a good look at the crabs it was discovered that our assumptions about the crab couple were not as clever as we thought. We had named the bigger horseshoe crab Phillip, assuming that the male would be the larger of the two. Fortunately, this theory was dispelled by Aaron. The female horseshoe crab is generally larger than the male. We released Mr. and Mrs. Phillip back into the creek. We waved goodbye and this time called them by their proper names. After the bon voyage everyone went back to searching for more sea life. We ended the morning with a bang and staged several crab races. Killer and Bob were among the champions of the races.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day Two, Week Two at Piers Park!

We finally caught a fish at Piers park, albeit it was not a very large one; but whatever, I'll take it!! On Tuesday, only Emily and I were staffing Piers Park as Tom was absent, but we did a great job and had lots of fun with the kids. We started the morning off with a quick game of sharks and minnows to get the kids excited and engaged. Once the sailors sailed off, we went down on the dock to catch some fish.
Things were moving slow at first as we failed to get even a nibble on any of our baits. A couple of the kids decided they would try their luck elsewhere and handed their rods over to the others who had not yet gotten their chance to fish. One of the boys, named jose, called me over to assist him. I took his rod and demonstrated how to cast (perfect cast), then I handed the rod over to him to give it a shot. Using everything I had thought him, Jose threw a near perfect cast. I patted him on the back and told him "well done". After just about a minute, Jose wheeled in his line, and at the end of it was...yes, a FISH!! Finally we had caught a fish, only the second one during my two weeks of working there, and the first one for Emily. It was a great scene as all the kids stopped what they were doing and rushed to see the fish. Unfortunately, it was not nearly large enough to keep so we had to release it. It was a great morning.


Wet Wednesday!

I had so much fun today!

After getting the two groups boarded on the boat and waved goodbye to Cassie, we left towards Spectacle Island. Many of the kids didn't know where or which island Spectacle was, so I had a great time with them trying to make them make an educated guess. I ate my delicious Honey Maple Turkey sandwich from J. Pace with my co-workers; then headed down to the beach for the first time this summer. I played "What time is it, Mr. Fox?" and "Red light, Green light" with Maya, Caitlin, and others for the majority of the hour. Then, David, Carolyn, and I enjoyed an almond macaroon from Mike's Pastries while listening to a story-teller and getting free books.
We then went to the far beach to collect some sea glass to show to the kids. They were amazed at all the blue sea glass. We tried to find crabs because it was Crab Count Wednesday, but sadly none could be found :(
On the boat ride back, after being instigated, we had a huge water fight, splashing water left and right. I wish Cassie could've been there so I could've made her soaking wet.
I love Save the Harbor/Save the Bay!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Citizen Scientists at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay

Many hands make for light work, as the saying goes—but in the case of researchers studying invasive species, the many hands and eyes they borrow from Citizen Scientists make it possible for a few researchers to study huge stretches of coastline. Dr. Judith Pederson, a professor with MIT’s Sea Grant College Program, has enlisted the help of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Boston Harbor Explorers togather data on the abundance, density, size and gender of invasive crabs in Boston Harbor. Dr. Judy and her fellow researchers put this data to use in several important ways, making our Boston Harbor Explorers part of a scientific pursuit that’s very important and widespread.

First, field observations by citizen scientists often yield new and unexpected observations. Citizen scientists, by virtue of the sheer volume of data they can collect, are a wonderful resource for tracking the spread of invasive organisms. In a study of invasive crabs conducted in 2005, a volunteer Citizen Scientist recorded a 40-mile northward range expansion by Asian Shore Crabs in Maine (Delaney et al. 2008). In layman’s terms, an amateur scientist discovered an Asian Shore Crab 40 miles farther north than anyone had ever seen one before! 40 miles is an incredible distance for a crab that rarely grows larger than a few inches across. The fact that Asian Shore Crabs were able to spread so quickly is a testament to how adaptable and prolific these invaders are.
Second, each additional Citizen Scientist gives researchers another pair of eyes and hands to observe and record new data. Scientists can then use the data that Citizen Scientists collect to produce models of how invasive organisms reproduce and establish themselves in their
new habitats; these detailed computer models take into account features like water temperature, salinity, and the direction of ocean currents to estimate how quickly an invasive species will establish itself in a new environment. Understanding the population dynamics of an invasive species is an essential step before the invader can be contained or eradicated.

Together, these two facets of Citizen Science—novel observations combined with data collection—make this approach ideally suited to tackling the challenges presented by invasive species. The earlier that scientists notice that an invasive species has spread to and established itself in an area, the easier it is to eradicate the invader. The longer that government agencies take to act on an invasive species threat, the more time the invader has to reproduce and expand its range. The fact that Citizen Scientists can be trained to recognize new invasive species means they can assist researchers and public agencies in stopping invaders before they become too plentiful in their new habitats. To that end, the “Hitchhikers” guide that MIT Sea Grant publishes includes several anticipated invaders in addition to the introduced species that are already commonplace on New England’s shores. Our Boston Harbor Explorers learn how to recognize not only the invaders that are already here, but also any new species that have yet to gain a foothold here in the Boston Harbor.

Knowledge is power. Learning how to recognize and prevent the spread of invasive species enables our Boston Harbor Explorers to take an active role in preserving the harbor’s native species for future generations.

Cheers and Calipers,

For more information, you can check out the following papers and publications:
Delancy, DG et al. Marine invasive species: validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks." Biological Invasions: V10, pp. 117-128, 2008.
You can also check out Dr. Judith Pederson's "Hitchhikers Guide to Exotic Species," available through the MIT Sea Grant Bioinvaders Page.

Summer Staff Take the Lead

A fond memory I carry with me from year to year at Save the Harbor is watching the younger youth staff take on larger responsibilities within their job title as the summer progresses. Every summer the youth staff watch and learn from the Senior Marine Educators and as the summer quickly moves ahead you will see their confidence level rise. It is a great reward as a teacher watching the students, children participating in the programs and the young youth staff take the lead on the docks.

For example, Latoya and I where working at the Boston Children's Museum one day. It was just the two of us and usually I would have to delegate a job for a youth assistant in the morning, but Latoya found her role that day very quickly. She was keeping an eye out for the touch tank, making sure that if a child was interacting with it one of us was there. She was always engaging the parents and children that participated for the day. I was excited to see her confidence in teaching the young participants take shape.

Watching the youth staff take on responsibility with the children at the sailing centers is a great reward. I know that the youth are finding confidence in themselves to lead education on the waterfront and take ownership of their harbor. These young stewards are working hard for us here at Save the Harbor and deserve recognition. By the end of the summer I feel confident that these young adults are ready for the work world, ready to continue their education, are full of confidence in themselves, have proven responsibility, and ready to take risks in order to give themselves a chance at life.

Thank you to all my summer staff for making this happen and teaching me along the way. It has been a great summer thus far and I look forward to finishing out the summer with a BANG!
- Jennifer Last

The Treasures of Spectacle Island

This summer Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, with the support of Mass Humanities, has started a new program: The Treasures of Spectacle Island.

My name is Cassandra, and I'm the Communications/Media Intern at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. I've never written on this blog - but I'm reading it constantly and working on its formating and HTML. I'm glad I got the opportunity to go out on All Access Boston Harbor today and had a blast!
As a new set of eyes today, it was my first time visiting any of the Boston Harbor Islands, I saw with wonder these treasures. I couldn't believe that this island was originally all trash. It was one of the cleanest places I've ever been - there wasn't even trash cans to smell the air up - so the air was clean and fresh with the hint of salt.

David Coffin and I ventured off with a couple of kids from Jeremiah E Burke High School to look at the abundant beach glass strewn across the beach to the left of the pier. And boy, was it abundant. As David said, "You could rake the beach glass." We took the time in a certain area of the beach to see how much glass we could find. We found piles of white and green glass, as well as many pieces of pottery with old style designs on them. Harder to find was the bright blue pieces, the red pieces, and the light green. David while combing the beach actually found a record high 3 small red pieces. I also found a light green! As exciting as it was and as much as I wanted to keep my discovering, we want to keep the Treasures of Spectacle Island on Spectacle Island. So I carefully placed it down back on the shore for the next person to discover.
The kids of the high school were a little apprehensive of hanging out looking at glass but slowly began to enjoy themselves as they scrambled around looking at the glass as well as the crab legs and bodies, the shells, and the pottery. Even the counselors got involved enjoying themselves throughly as they combed the beach to find the best piece of glass.
The best glass to find was the glass with the names on it - the ones you could tell had been an old wine bottle, or a milk "carton". We also found another gem ashore - a fellow high schoolers hat that had been blown away by the heavy winds.

We ended the day with a quick swim. The waves were constant from the wind, the water wasn't too cold, and the kids had a great time.

I wish I could spend everyday out in the sun!

P.S. Meet "Tiger", one of the cutest kids I've ever met.

So far I've been having the best summer at Save The Harbor Save The Bay. I have been at all the sites and had fun at everyone. The best one to me yet was Camp Harbor View. Its just so much excitement there for all the kids its like they can never get board. One of the best things about working with Save The harbor Save The Bay is the people I work with. Their great people and we all care about each other. Since I've been here I have connected with my staff in some kind of way.


4th Place is Synonymous With Winning

Last Sunday, our team of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay super athletes rose at the wee hours of the morning to defend our organizations name in the Wollaston Beach Volleyball Tournament. The crack team was composed of Tom, our ringer Caitlin, LaToya, BJ, Thi, Alex, and myself. After arriving fashionably late, I discovered that we were down a man after BJ failed wake up. Undaunted, we prepared for our first game with the determination to win. We were up against a team which proved to be even less expirenced then us. Due to stellar serving by Caitlin, Alex, and Tom, we were able to shut them down and propell us forward. We soon felt that perhaps, we could be contenders in this wholesome competition. For the next game, we came back from an early defeciet to soundly trounce our second opponent. The cup now seemed to be in our sights but alas, our eyes proved to be bigger than out stomachs. We went up against Ball On, a team that apparently consisted of adults who actually played volleyball. How lame, right? With one guy attempting to be a hero by serving like a juiced up Bulgarian, we quickly were crushed. There were some bright moments though with Thi and LaToya working on their serves and providing useful assists. Thankfully, it was double elimantion so we dropped to the losers brackett to battle team Morrisey. After a close game, where I went on a hot streak, we came up 3 points short of advancing. Needless to say, our fourth place overall out of fourteen teams is an amazing accomplishment. No doubt about it, we brought honor back to the SHSB name.

Peace Out,


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Infamous AABH on a MONDAY

With the wind whipping on our faces, Cassie, David, BJ, Alizee, and I went on the trip out to Spectacle because the original day was canceled due to heavy rainstorms. In the lobster trap was a spider crab! The first group that came enjoyed themselves and became bold enough to hold it and scaring their fellow members. With groups coming in and listening to David talk about today's wonderful opportunities to do something that the groups had never done before, in a smart and safe way. Many crossed off this challenge by just stepping onto the island itself or even stepping onto the Virginia C-II.
After dispersing to renew our energy with our homemade lunches, and enjoying my cherries, Cassie and David went to the beach on the right with a couple of students to collect sea glass and pottery while BJ, Eliza, and I went to the top of the highest drumlin to fly kites. I met many kids who didn't feel like going up because they didn't want to hike up the hill, but one guy, named Eddie, pinkie promised me that he would go up the hill with his friends to fly kites; I had a great time trying to persuade them to get up and go with us!
On the summit, it was quite windy, sending many kites twisting and swerving everywhere. The kids who flew the kites were young, maybe even too young to hold onto the handles. The winds were fierce, and actually blew away a kite! I quickly ran to the tiny "bridge" because the handle got stuck on the railings. A park ranger got there ahead of me and gave me the handle. The string was all let out, and I spent nearly 20 minutes trying to ravel up the string, and untangle the kite from 2 trees. It was quite an adventure!

The next three days are going to be a blast!


“A whole menagerie!”

That’s what one counselor exclaimed at the Courageous Sailing Center today when the kids excitedly showed them what we’d pulled up in the lobster trap: several Red Rock Crabs, two big American Lobsters, a Northern Sea Star! I guess canned Tuna (I used Atlantic Skipjack, since it is one of the most plentiful species—unlike Atlantic Bluefin, which have been severely over-fished in recent years) really does the trick—thanks Bruce and Jen for the tip J. We used it for the first time on Friday, and over the weekend the “living room” (the area in a lobster trap where the animals get stuck) filled with ocean critters! Not only had some of the kids never held a starfish before, but our own (fantastic) intern Aruna had never held one either! We passed it around so that everyone got a turn, along with the lobsters—comparing feeding mechanisms; lobsters use their claws and mandibles (mouthparts) to bring bits of food to their mouth, while starfish bring not only their mouth, but their entire stomach to their food by climbing on top of their prey and then literally ejecting their stomach and digesting externally, sucking it back in only once they’ve finished the meal. It was great to be able to compare and contrast the different organisms. We wondered together if the starfish, like the lobsters, had been attracted by the tuna or if it had just ended up in the trap randomly today. We decided to test it out with more Tuna and see what comes back next time. I’ll have to pick up some more tomorrow. Stay tuned to see what else this fantastic new bait turns up…


Piers Park & CSC Week Two!!

Hello everyone, hope you all had a good weekend. Today I started my second week working at Piers Park & CSC after a one week absence. We had a new group at Piers Park and I had fun getting to know them. As we waited for the sailors to leave from the dock, we played a quick game of sharks and minnows, but sadly I failed to get to base even once the whole time so I was stuck being a seaweed the whole time. So after the sailors left, we headed down to the docks where we got some fishing going. Even though we did not catch a fish, we all had lots of fun trying.

After finishing up a great morning at Piers Park, we took a boat ride to CSC. I enjoyed my first week working at CSC, but based on today, it seems week 2 is going to be even more fun. We pulled up a couple of lobster traps, on one of them we caught two red-rock crabs, and on the other we found two gigantic lobsters (ok maybe not that big, but big enough to eat). Tom said he would take the bigger one home for dinner, I do not know what will happen to the less gigantic one, maybe it will get lucky and be freed. We then got some fishing done but again, we could not catch any, but it was also still fun. Soon after that the call was made for sailing, and unfortunately only two Save The Harbor staffers were needed so I had to head back to the office to do some blogging (which is also lots of fun). That was the end of another great day at work, looking forward to an even better one tomorrow.

ps. Congrats to the SH/SB volleyball team!! 4th out of 14, not bad at all. lol


That's not a crab!

Last week Conor wrote about the prehistoric sea spider that our friend Sully found crawling through the mud at Black’s Creek in Quincy—take a look at these pictures, which give you a sense of just how strange horseshoe “crabs” are. Horseshoe crabs are so unusual to us today because they’re “living fossils,” a term that paleontologists use to describe animals that are very similar to their distant ancestors. The horseshoe crabs that we find today look the same as fossil horseshoe crabs from 445 million years ago! To put that into perspective, it took less than 6 million years for chimpanzees and humans to evolve into different species. During that same stretch of time, horseshoe crabs have hardly changed at all!

Why haven’t horseshoe crabs changed? Because they’re so good at what they do. Although they’re not really crabs, like the Green Crabs or Asian Shore Crabs we see more often, they do live on the ocean floor and feed primarily by scavenging. They’re protected by a thick shell, which covers their whole body, and their tail allows them to right themselves if they get flipped over. Horseshoe crabs are built like tanks, and they’re designed so well that they’ve had no reason to change.

The only threat that horseshoe crabs face comes from humans, who pollute their habitats and collect too many of them to use as bait and fertilizer. When colonists first arrived in New England, there were so many horseshoe crabs that farmers would literally use tons of them to fertilize their fields—nowadays, however, finding a horseshoe crab in Boston Harbor is a thrilling discovery. With continued dedication to cleaning up the Harbor, we can ensure that horseshoe crabs will still be around to give future generations of Bostonians a living lesson in ancient history.


Lynn Beach Kid's Concert Event

Last Saturday, I made my way to Lynn Beach for the first time for what turned out to be a really fun event. As we drove around the corner leading to the beach, my attention was immediately drawn to the massive sea wall. As I pulled up to the Red Rock Park, they were just beginning to set up for the Kid's Concert. Luckily we were there early so we had plenty of time to help set up our own equipment and some of their tables. When families started to show up, it was clear that the lobster in our touch tank was going to be a big hit. The kids really enjoyed touching and even picking up the lobster. Parents were excited and eager to snap pictures of their kids with a live lobster! For some of these kids, it was hopefully the first of many times they get to play with the marine life right from our own Boston Harbor. A few of the kids even got to take home some shells we had found right at Lynn Beach. Overall, it was a great event. The kids also really enjoyed the band that played. It was a very successful day.

-Tom Regan

Friday, July 23, 2010

Finding a New Home in the Harbor

I know I've taken over the blog a bit these past couple days with crab and water testing, but I can't resist sharing my amazing week with you all and thanking everyone who was a part of it. I'll bullet-point my highlights to try and keep it short, but, coming off the my favorite week of the summer so far, I can't make any promises...

  • I got to work with the Dream Team this week- LaToya, Aruna, Tommy, and myself meshed amazingly well together, and I can't thank them enough for the passion they put in to what we were doing. Plus, I really just had so much fun with them. Thanks guys!
  • I felt very at home working at the Boston Children's Museum, getting to talk to families and have those quick windows of time to really connect with the great kids that pass through. Practically every child that comes over to our touch tank or our lobster trap encounters something new and has this unforgettable look of awe and wonder on his or her face. I'm never going to get sick of that look.
  • I got to work alongside Jen Last a TON this week, who, aside from providing such a great support system to our youth staff this summer, is a great role model for anyone who seeks a future in marine education. I'm incredibly lucky to be learning the ropes from her and developing my own style of teaching in the process. Thank you, Jen!
  • My kids all week asked some amazing questions, ranging from "Is a barnacle growing on a whale the same kind of thing as if my dog had a worm?" to "I know we can't use a native spider crab for bait, we should use an Asian Shore crab... what if a spider crab was in Asia, could we use it for bait there?" It was so rewarding to see those scientific wheels turning.
  • Combined, my sites caught 5 fish this week-- the 5th of which was a 27-29 inch striper that we reeled in RIGHT as we were starting to pack up in South Boston this afternoon. I couldn't have asked for a better final note to finish the week!

For those of you who don't know, I moved here on a whim at the beginning of June. It was pretty scary to take a leap like that. I left the most important people in my life at home in Maryland, and I miss them all the time. I blindly hoped that Boston would present an outlet for my passion for environmental education, but I moved up without a job. Then Jen, Lindsay, Patty, and Bruce took me in and gave me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing group of people. It's not always easy to be 22 years old, in a new city, far away from my family, apartment hunting, trying to figure out what the next step in my life will be; but it's weeks like this that leave no doubt in my mind that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Lots of Harbor Love,