Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Roger That

Monday was a day for the books at Piers Park! Recently, we have been accomplishing things even the Sailing Center's oldest staff have never seen at their site. After almost landing a Striped Bass fishing from the docks we thought we could not do much else that folks have yet to see until Monday.

Carefully transporting from lobster trap to water
We began our dock time like any other day by pulling the crab traps first. Crab traps are our first activity because they are light, easy for kids to get out of the water, and usually are loaded with things for them to look at. When a few kids look like they're not interested in the crabs, tunicates, and mussels that usually come up with the crab trap we ask if they want to pull the lobster trap, I've never had anyone tell me no!

We have the Harbor Explorers take turns because it is so heavy, they usually pull until they need a break and a friend will step in to help. As it rose to the surface I heard screams, not just from the kids but from the staff too. I thought to myself, we must have so many lobsters! As I took a good look at the trap I realized we did not have any lobsters, just one large creature that looked tangled and gasping for air. We realized we pulled up a skate in our lobster trap!

He was definitely waving to us.
We quickly tried to think of what to do. We knew we had a skate, we knew it was tangled in the trap, but we had no idea how to get it out or what we were going to put it into. Thinking it would be best for the animal to be in water we lowered the trap to buy ourselves some time. We looked for gloves, I've been told to watch out for a skate's tail but I wasn't sure how dangerous it may or may not have been. Finally, we found some thick gloves. I put them on and we pulled up the trap. We had a large plastic wheelbarrow filled with water ready to put the creature in to be able to examine it.

I surprised myself with how willing I was to stick my hands in to untangle this creature that could potentially have hurt me in the process but I knew I had to get the skate out. Finally it was able to curl itself into a ball making it easy for me to pick it up. When we finally got it into the water my team felt so successful, the kids and the Piers Park staff were amazed. We could not stop gawking over the amazing animal in front of us. The kids decided to name him and listened intently as we taught them all about skates. We watched him swim around and it looked like he was waving his pectoral fin at us. He must have been a Jolly Roger because he got out of that trap!

Over and out,

Comparing the anatomy of a skate to a flounder with our Harbor Explorers 

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