One of the highlights of our summer is always the opportunity to work with summer campers on the beach. We have a varied curriculum and we include a number of activities and topics related to marine biology, conservation and marine life.
With an inter-tidal zone investigation, campers explore marine ecology, human impacts and conservation of Long Island Sound. Campers have the opportunity to connect with the habitat in their own backyard, learn how they, as individuals, are part of a community as well as how animals adapt to an extreme environment. We learn about Asian shore crabs, set minnow traps, and search for crabs, snails and worms. We use nets to safely collect marine specimens.
With artifacts and live animals, we explore the diversity of animals that live in Long Island Sound. We discuss the meaning of Animal Classifications and how animals of the Sound are classified. Campers find a variety of life including Crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles) and Echoniderms (starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea cucumbers.)
Here, Chris provides information to campers about some of our finds.
Campers were enthusiastic to learn about this cute baby Atlantic Blue Crab. Along with other crabs, shrimp, and lobsters, it is a decapod, which means it has ten legs. They are covered with a spiny exoskeleton that provides them some protection from potential predators, but at different stages of its lifecycle, the species is preyed upon by many species of fish and invertebrates.
Campers found and studied this beautiful Horseshoe Crab. We discuss the need for conservation and what is being done to help preserve this important species whose survival is threatened by human consumption and rapid loss of habitat.
This Pipefish was another exciting find. This species is classified in the
same family as seahorses and seadragons.
This baby spider crab demonstrates camouflage at its best! Spider crabs belong to a group known as "decorator crabs" and their main defense against predation is the ability to camouflage themselves with various spines and tubercles, algae, debris and small invertebrates.
After observing and learning about these animals, we release them safely back to their habitat.