An Eighth-Grade Elkhorn Slough Expedition

8th grade students explore Elkhorn Slough with Moss Landing grad students and staff. (photo: T. Novak)

by Erin Loury

There’s no better classroom than out in the field.  This June, Mr. Lane’s 8th grade science class from the International School of Monterey got up close with oceanography, with the help of some MLML Physical Oceanography grad students and staff.  Having studied basic marine science and discussed human impacts on the ocean, including global warming and ocean acidification, the 8th graders had the chance to explore Moss Landing’s marine environment first hand.

The MLML crew steered the class on a boat tour of Elkhorn Slough that turned into a salty safari, with appearances by sea otters, jellies, rays, sea lions, and a variety of algae, invertebrates and birds.  The MLML team highlighted the potential impacts of agriculture on the local watershed.  They  also introduced the class to the LOBO network, which stands for Land Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory, and is designed to track chemical fluxes throughout the slough environment.

Ready to turn over the LOBO mooring (photo: M. Nakagawa)

The class tipped over LOBO mooring L01 in the main channel of the slough to get a good look at the sensor array (which monitors many properties of the water, including temperature, salinity, nitrate, oxygen, pH, and current velocity), as well as a whole bunch of organisms that decided to make the mooring their home!

The MLML team talked to the class about the work it takes to maintain this observatory network, such as periodically removing these fouling organisms from the sensors, as well as managing the continuous flow of real-time data from sensors.  Tanya Novak, a graduate student in the Physical Oceanography Lab, summed up the experience this way: “They were a very enthusiastic and intelligent group of 8th graders, excited to learn and get their hands dirty.  We had a blast!”

Check out these photos of their adventure and findings!

A group of intrepid explorers ready to hit the slough! (photo: T. Novak)

MLML grad student Melinda Nakagawa steers a whaler through Elkhorn sough. (photo: T. Novak)

More photos…

Collecting water samples. (photo: T. Novak)

What could be on this mooring? (photo: M. Nakagawa)

What could be on this mooring? (photo: M. Nakagawa)

A whole lot of algae!! (photo: M. Nakagawa)

Among the finds: nudibranchs (sea slugs!), tiny mussels and clams, lots of red and green algae, hydroids, skeleton shrimps, and amphipods! (photo: M. Nakagawa)

A successful (and safe) day on the water!

This entry was posted in Erin Loury, Research: Fresh from the Field, Why Science Generally Rocks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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