Friday, July 17, 2015

Sun, fun, sea stars, beach stars!

Hello Friends of STH/STB!

What a week! I should be exhausted, scientifically speaking, but I have enjoyed every single minute of this week, so instead, I'm bubbling over with energy!

Clam risking it, driving a speed boat without a license!
First things first: watch this video! It is only five seconds long, pay attention to the first two seconds for a chorus spouts of water to the left of Annie's feet. They're from clams! This is my favorite discovery of the week- having kids hop up and down to find clams under the sand! I have been to the beach hundreds of times in my life, and never before have I noticed clams squirting through the sand. Now I know exactly what to look for, and kids (and their grown-ups, sometimes) LOVE to help us find where to dig, even if they are scared of touching the sand themselves!
The clams kids hop to look for!

Many kids don't just jump- they dig too! Up to the right, Santiago from the YMCA decided his clams might be bored. He let one lucky clam drive a speedboat, which admittedly, is probably more fun than wiggling around in the sand. Santi had so much fun that he approached our JPAs at the end of the day and asked who we were, and if he could work for us. Sure, he's only 9, but he held up eight fingers and said "I will be back in this many years for a job!" Keep your eyes out for this one, Bruce, he's applying early! This clam-hunting happened at Carson Beach, and we decided to use this activity at the Eastie campfire on Thursday night-check out next week's blog for more information on that!

Other discoveries this week came in rapid-fire succession because I was able to switch to two new locations: Courageous Sailing and Community Boating Inc.! Both locations have breath-taking views, energetic kids, helpful staff and lots of sea-critters to enjoy!

The view from Courageous- I will never want a cubicle job after this!
Crabzilla, a normal rock crab with a big name!

At Courageous Sailing, we have four or five big crab traps. We start our morning down on the docks, strapped into our life-jackets, ready to dodge whatever the sea-squirts spit at us. I was very nervous about starting two new cites on Wednesday, but my Lead Harbor Explorer, Lucas, had everything under control, and helped me learn the ropes! He and Andy, one of our JPAs, hauled up the traps while Ruth, a JPA and dock-boogy-extraordinaire, cut up frozen fish to use as bait. I met some new sea creatures this week, including a rock crab we named Crabzilla! Our sailers wanted him to win the crab race, but rock-crab-motivation is not one of our specialties (or anyone's, really.) I saw a sea star spit its stomach out in order to munch on a mussel, and helped kids identify "pregnant" moon jellies (pink rings, ready for spawning!) We did fish prints with Ruth, and decided by popular vote that I should dissect the flounder after it was used for art. We found what we expected to inside the flounder, not  totally intact after defrosting and smushing the flounder on rice paper with dye... but the campers loved it!
Sea star eating a mussel! 

Jake attacking the city of Boston with his sea monster creation! Beware: part Great White, part Lady's Comb Jellyfish, part sea worm, all real beasts of the Atlantic combined into an imaginary monster! 
Afterwards, I had a few drawing contests with kids at Courageous, and lost most of them! The challenge is to combine a familiar species from the guidebook with another, unfamiliar creature to make a scary (or interesting) sea monster, and we have other kids judge whose is scariest! Jake was so excited that he kept finding new creatures in the guidebook, and adding them on to his creature. Then, we pretended to attack the city of Boston with our worm-shark-jelly monster (others joined in as they waited for fishing rods to free-up!)

Despite being in imaginary peril, the city of Boston and its communities amazed me this week. I will explain more about Community Boating in my next post, but here is one anecdote to close this week. As we put our paddles away after kayaking, one of the counselors pulled Ruth and I aside and told us that she grew up with Save the Harbor. She said she was amazed by the biodiversity STH/STB helped her experience as a child, and she decided to study marine biology because of it. "You guys make an impact, please know how important that was to me," she said, pausing with our paddles to smile and nod at the kids behind us.

We make a difference. We have to remember that, and we have to keep it up for the kids we work with today.

Go jump around in the sand!

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