Marine Camp 2016: Underwater Investigator Sneak Peak

The Underwater Investigator camp for entering 6th-8th graders is a week-long program that is sure to inspire curiosity about the various fields within marine science. This summer campers will explore a different marine science field each day, including marine ecology and conservation, biodiversity, physical and biological oceanography, biomimicry, and will even learn what it takes to be an aquarist. They will practice scientific data collection on land by using real scientific equipment and they will also create their own quadrat, a research tool used to collect data to survey the biodiversity and health of a habitat. Campers will also spend a fun day canoeing to nearby Bair Island where they will investigate mud-dwelling invertebrates, examine the hydrology of the slough, and check out native and non-native plants that make this wetland such a unique habitat.

Their camp week culminates in a fun 2-day-long trip aboard our research vessel, and campers and staff even sleep aboard the boat! Campers will board the boat at 9am on the Thursday of their camp week and participate in various marine science studies as they venture to Sausalito for field trip activities. They will then have free time playing games and exploring the area while we barbecue dinner. Campers will then board the boat and watch a movie as we head to the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor for the overnight portion. On Friday campers will use scientific equipment to sample fish from the Bay, examine invertebrates from the mud, and study plankton underneath a microscope. This fun-filled week is packed with action!

Currently all of the Underwater Investigator sessions are full but campers can still be registered for the waitlists.

UNDERWATER INVESTIGATOR SCHEDULE:

June 20-24

July 11-15

July 25-29

WAITLIST SIGN UP NOW

Advertisements

Marine Camp 2016: Naturalist Sneak Peak

Our Naturalist program is for entering 4th and 5th graders who have attended an Explorers camp. The Naturalist campers will dive deeper into life and processes of the San Francisco Bay and Pacific coast, learn research methods and discuss current issues in our world’s marine ecosystems. By learning how to be naturalists, these devoted marine scientists will become familiar with the skills and passion needed to be a life scientist during their fast-paced camp week.

Naturalists have an amazing and fun week ahead of them. Activities include:

  • Preserved sea star dissection to examine the water vascular system.
  • Creating a quadrat, a tool used to quantify the number of species and amount of new species within a designated area. This tool is essential for studying biodiversity and the health of an area. Campers will keep the quadrat they create!
  • Learning how to take fish data by identifying and taking measurements on the fish caught. This data goes into a database which other organizations have access to.
  • Examining Phyla and the features of different groups of animals which made scientists group them together.

… and much more!

All Naturalist camps (except for the shortened July 5th camp week) have:

  • 2 days at our site to study live animals from our aquarium and to engage in other science projects both indoors and outside
  • 2 field trips (reached by school bus) that feature different habitats (shortened July 5th week has 1 field trip)
  • 1 day aboard our ship that includes fishing, studying plankton, sampling mud, and learning about nautical navigation
  • 2 staff plus a volunteer for every 15 campers
  • Flexible curriculum that engages multiple learning styles

Naturalist campers will be visiting two field trip sites: the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center and the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve. On both of these excursions campers will learn about the habitats, perform experiments to better understand the conditions of each location, and examine animal life.

There are 4 weeks of Naturalist camp available during the summer. If your entering 4th or 5th grade camper has attended an Explorer camp during a previous summer we encourage them to join this fast-paced program. Campers also have the option of being in an Explorer camp earlier in the summer and signing up for Naturalists later on to compound the information and dive deeper into marine science.

Join us for this awesome experience as campers dive into marine science and explore our local marine habitats. Camps run Monday through Friday, 8:30am-3pm with extended care available until 5:30pm.

NATURALIST SCHEDULE:

July 5-8 *special overnight opportunity available

July 18-22

August 1-5

August 8-12

*We have a special option for the shortened 4th of July camp week of Naturalists: an optional overnight is available on the Thursday (July 7th) of camp for an additional $50. Campers will bring their overnight materials (clothes, sleeping bags, etc) and we will camp in the MSC. Food will be provided. Campers will watch a marine science themed video TBD, tow for night plankton and examine under a microscope, learn how scientists navigated using the stars, and more!

SIGN UP NOW

Marine Camp 2016: Ocean Explorers Sneak Peak

Entering 2nd-5th graders have two camp options: Wetland Explorers (discussed in a blog from 2 weeks ago found HERE) or Ocean Explorers, a camp of similar structure but focusing on a different habitat. Ocean Explorers camp is about “whole world’s ocean” and how we are connected to it. Campers will learn about various habitats such as the highly productive kelp forest, the harsh sandy beach, the ever-changing rocky shore and the dramatic open ocean which is strongly characterized by physical factors. Diverse populations of marine algae and animals are found along the rocky coast as well as in the open ocean. Wind, sunlight, tides and other physical factors create a complex environment, and the animals that are a part of northern California’s coastal community have incredible adaptations for survival.

Ocean Explorer camp, as well as MSI’s other camp options, is geared toward California’s science standards taught during the school year, and is fun and interactive. Hands-on lessons, animal touching, games, crafts, songs and more are themed toward the material to engage campers to embrace the communities along our nearby coastline.

All Ocean Explorer camps have:

  • 2 days at our site to study live animals from our aquarium and to engage in other science projects both indoors and outside
  • 2 field trips (reached by school bus) that feature different habitats
  • 1 day aboard our ship that includes fishing, studying plankton, sampling mud, and learning about nautical navigation
  • 2 staff plus a volunteer for every 15 campers
  • Flexible curriculum that engages multiple learning styles

Campers will be going on two field trips during their week at camp: Bean Hollow State Beach and the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center. Bean Hollow (along the coast about 17 miles south of Half Moon Bay) offers ample opportunity for tide pool exploration and other activities. Campers will be able to find hermit crabs, black turban snails, sea anemones, purple shore crabs, sea stars with 5-6 arms, and more! This region also offers a coastal walk where campers can spot common native and non-native coastal plants, and even find a harbor seal haul-out where these marine mammals are commonly seen resting on the rocks.

The second field trip is a visit to the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center in San Francisco. Located near Crissy Field, this facility has been transformed from old Coast Guard Buildings and is found along the beach. Campers will explore the region looking for crabs along the shoreline and taking part in crab population surveys. They will also drag a plankton net through the water and compare the coastal plankton to that found in the south Bay at our facility. Campers will also take part in a marine debris project with the Ocean Conservancy; they will contribute to a survey in which they will account for and tally the number of trash items found. The data will be entered into a database and submitted to the Ocean Conservancy, which will be compiled and become a part of a report for the city of San Francisco and contribute to the global project placed by the Ocean Conservancy.

Join us for a week full of fun, lessons, games, and interactive activities that are sure to excite your camper and inspire their love for the life within the California coastline and open ocean. Camps run Monday through Friday, 8:30am-3pm with extended care available until 5:30pm. Camp July 5th-8th still has spots available!

OCEAN EXPLORER SCHEDULE:

June 13-17 – FULL

June 20-24 – FULL

June 27-July 1 – FULL

July 5-8

July 11-15 – FULL

July 18-22 – FULL

July 25-29 – FULL

August 1-5 – FULL

August 8-12 – FULL

SIGN UP NOW

Creature Feature: Fairy Basslet

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Common Facts:

Scientific name: Gramma loreto

Diet: Small crustaceans, parasitic organisms found on larger fish, plankton

Size: Up to 3 inches

Range: Western Atlantic Ocean—Florida to northern South America and the Caribbean Sea

Despite their tiny size, Fairy basslets are hard to miss. With their bright purple and yellow bodies, it’s easy to spot these darting flashes of color. Fairy basslets are coral reef inhabitants and can generally be found under ledges or in caves.

“Fairy basslets are known to swim upside-down under ledges and along cave ceilings. They live in colonies and defend their territory from other species and even from other fairy basslets. Male fairy basslets guard and care for the eggs and the nest.”

Males find and establish nest sites before they participate in spawning activity. They find small crevices and holes in the reef and line them with algae, to cover the opening. Then, at dawn, female basslets will come to the nesting sites and deposit their eggs in a nest. After 10-11 days, the male’s guard duty is complete and the eggs hatch. “Then the larvae are believed to proceed to the planktonic stage until they are sufficiently heavy to resettle on the reef.”

Something interesting about Fairy basslets is that they are all born female, but can change sex to male. Males are more colorful than females and darken when they are ready to mate. Males also become a little bit larger than the females.

Fairy basslets are a beautiful and fun fish to observe! Take the time to admire them if you ever happen upon them.

Sources: http://www.fishlore.com/Profiles_Fairy_Basslet.htm

http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/152728/

http://www.aqua.org/explore/animals/fairy-basslet

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Creature Feature: Spotted Handfish

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Common Facts:

Scientific name -Brachionichthys hirsutus

Size – 10-15 cm

Diet – Small crustacea and worms

It’s not often that you find a fish that would rather walk than swim. But that’s exactly how it is for the Spotted Handfish. These rare fish, prefer to use their pectoral and ventral fins to pull themselves along the sea bottom, rather than swim. Hence the name, Spotted Handfish.

It’s ‘paired fins’ are not the only feature that make the Spotted Handfish a distinctive species. They are pear-shaped, cream colored and have an array of brown and yellow-brown spots—each individual fish has a pattern that is unique to them. They also have a lure above their mouth that is thought is be used a way to entice prey, but this has yet to be proven.

“The Spotted Handfish is a bottom dwelling fish that lives in coarse to fine silt and sand at depths of 2-30 metres.” They typically reproduce during the months of September and October by laying up to 250 eggs on objects connected to the bottom of the sea. The female Spotted Handfish will then stand guard over the eggs for 7-8 weeks until they hatch. Once they are hatched, the new fish are on their own. But they don’t venture far—they normally stay in the same area they were born for the rest of their lives.

The Spotted Handfish is one of the most endangered marine fish in the world. They have undergone a massive decline in recent decades. “Although unproven, it is thought that the introduction of the northern Pacific seastar to Tasmania at this time may be the key to the decimation of the hand fish population.” The seastars are predators of shellfish and many believe that they may eat the handfish eggs or the sea squirts where the eggs are sometimes attached. “This species is under added threat from its vastly reduced population, limited dispersal, restricted distribution and low reproductive rate.” Conservation efforts are currently underway.

Sources: http://www.arkive.org/spotted-handfish/brachionichthys-hirsutus/

https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/spotted-hand-fish-brachionichthys-hirsutus

Marine Camp 2016: Wetland Explorers Sneak Peak

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Opportunities are abound in the Wetland Explorer camp for 2nd-5th graders. This camp explorers our local habitats and the animals that inhabit our incredible backyard. Campers will explore the life found in our local estuary, marshes, sloughs and mudflats. With Bair Island Ecological Reserve across the waterway from Marine Science Institute, campers will be inspired and curious about the vast array of wildlife this area offers. This shoreline habitat makes the Bay ecosystem healthier by providing homes for diverse animals that live only in this habitat, migratory birds that use the marsh as a pit-stop along their route, and by acting as a sponge by filtering pollutants and heavy metals from run-off.

During their week learning about the San Francisco Bay’s wetlands, Wetland Explorers will discover the animal life that calls our estuarine habitat home. This camp is geared toward California’s science standards taught during the school year, and is fun and interactive. Campers will touch animals and participate in hands-on activities, games, crafts and songs tailored toward the material.

All Wetland Explorer camps have:

  • 2 days at our site to study live animals from our aquarium and to engage in other science projects both indoors and outside
  • 2 field trips (reached by school bus) that feature different habitats
  • 1 day aboard our ship that includes fishing, studying plankton, sampling mud, and learning about nautical navigation
  • 2 staff plus a volunteer for every 15 campers
  • Flexible curriculum that engages multiple learning styles

The first field trip is to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco. Here campers will tour the only square-rigged ship left in the San Francisco Bay area, the Balclutha. Built in 1886, the Balclutha was a cargo ship that traveled around the world and now resides in San Francisco as a National Historic Landmark. Campers will learn sea shanties and learn how the San Francisco Bay became one of the world’s largest and most important seaports. Campers will also explore birdlife and invertebrates through activities with binoculars and on the docks at the aquatic park. Kelp crabs, giant bay anemones and nudibranchs as large as your hand will fascinate Wetland Explorers as they compare the invertebrate life in this North Bay area with that found on our docks in the South Bay.

The second field trip is to the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, which includes the only extensive wetland along the coast of the San Francisco peninsula. This area hosts extensive flat hiking trails where campers will utilize binoculars and bird field guides to spot some of the 60 species of birds that nest in the marsh (and 200 that fly through it!) and the importance of the marsh as a breakpoint along the Pacific Flyway. They will also use field guides to identify and differentiate between native and non-native plant species. We can even spot harbor seals as they surface, or leopard shark fins as they search along the bottom for food during low tide!

The Wetland Explorer camp is an excellent option for young scientists to learn about our nearby marine habitats. All Instructors have a degree in Marine Biology, Environmental Science, Education or a related field, and many have field research experience and will emphasize different aspects of the curriculum. Each instructor has their own unique teaching style so no two weeks of camp are the same.

Join us for this unique experience as campers explore the science that is practically in their backyard. Camps run Monday through Friday, 8:30am-3pm with extended care available until 5:30pm.

WETLAND EXPLORER SCHEDULE:

June 13-17

June 20-24

June 27-July 1

July 11-15

July 18-22

July 25-29

 

SIGN UP NOW

Creature Feature: Leafy Sea Dragon

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Common Facts:

Scientific name –Phycodurus eques

Size – Up to 16 inches long

Diet – Krill, mysids, sea lice

Range – South and Western Australia

If you were scuba diving along the rocky reefs of Southern and Western Australia, you might never spot one of the beautiful Leafy sea dragon! For a couple of different reasons. First, these fish are rare. And second, they are camouflaged to blend in perfectly with the seaweeds and seagrass around them!

Leafy sea dragons are related to sea horses, and have a similar body type—except they don’t use their tail to grip things like sea horses do. And they have some extra frills that seahorses do not. “Sea dragons are some of the most ornately camouflaged creatures on the planet. Adorned with gossamer, leaf-shaped appendages over their entire bodies, they are perfectly outfitted to blend in with the seaweed and kelp formations they live amongst.”

Leafy sea dragons have small dorsal and pectoral fins that they use to awkwardly swim through the water. Although a lot of the time, they enjoy just letting the current carry them, like the seaweed they are mimicking.

Something interesting about Leafy sea dragons is that the males are the ones that do the child-bearing! The females deposit their eggs on a brood patch the males have on the underside of their tails. The eggs are fertilized in this process, and then the males carry them for 4-6 weeks until they hatch. Luckily for the parents, the work is then done. Baby sea dragons are independent from birth.

Due to their excellent camouflaging skills, Leafy sea dragons have very few predators, outside of humans. Humans love to catch them and keep them as pets because they are such beautiful creatures. Australia currently has a ban on hunting/fishing/disturbing Leafy sea dragons in the hopes that their numbers will increase.

Sources:

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/leafy-sea-dragon

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/sea-dragon/

 

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

 

Creature Feature: Mimic Octopus

Common Facts:

Scientific name – Thaumoctopus mimicus

Diet – Small fish and crustaceans

Size – Up to 2 feet long, with 25 centimeter arms

Life span – Said to live for around 9 months

Initially, if you happened upon a Mimic octopus, you would think that it was just a normal, slightly small, octopus. But the Mimic octopus is not your typical octopus. These sea creatures have LOTS of tricks up their sleeve.

It is the behavior of the Mimic octopus that makes it stand out and gives it it’s name. “Mimicry is commonly used as a survival strategy in nature. However the mimic appears to be able to take on the appearance of not just 1 other species, but of several.” Not only that, but all of the other species that the Mimic imitates are venomous, making this a deliberate and evolved tactic of survival.

The Mimic octopus can make itself appear to be a Lion fish, sea snake and a sole/flatfish. It bends and shapes it’s body to look just like theirs. Below is a video showing the Mimic octopus in action.

The Mimic octopus also has a lot of the same physical characteristics of other octopus species have. They have the ability to change the color and texture of their skin to blend into their surroundings to protect themselves. They have “8 arms, a mantle containing 3 hearts and other internal organs, and a siphon used for jet propulsion. The arms have 2 rows of suckers, each sucker having a touch sensor and a chemoreceptor, allowing the mimic effectively to feel and taste its food before it eats it. It has a large brain but lacks the sense of hearing.”

 

Sources: http://www.dive-the-world.com/creatures-mimic-octopus.php

http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=260

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Marine Camp 2016: Plankton Pioneers Sneak Peak

Campers entering Kindergarten through 1st grade have an exhilarating week ahead of them as Plankton Pioneers!

This camp introduces your budding biologist to the wonders of our amazing local marine life, both in the San Francisco Bay and in our world’s ocean. They will experience the animals and habitats first hand through a variety of fun-filled interactive activities. Campers will learn about and touch live animals in a safe and exciting environment, and participate in themed crafts, games, songs and stories. These activities spark excitement about nature and will inspire campers to appreciate our local life!

Each day of camp has a different theme, enabling campers to explore different aspects of marine science. Plankton Pioneers will also create fun crafts, including decorating their own reusable tote bag with marine animal designs and creating their own jelly to play with. They will also spend a day on board our 90’ research vessel, surveying animals from the San Francisco Bay! This ship was designed specifically for teaching programs in the San Francisco Bay. Join us as we go fishing, survey mud and invertebrates, study plankton, sharks, and so much more!

Camps run Monday through Friday select weeks from 8:30am-1pm. Extended care is available until 5:30pm.

Camp availability:

June 13-17 – FULL

June 27-July 1 – AVAILABLE

July 5-8 – AVAILABLE

August 1-5 – FULL

August 8-12 – FULL

Space is available – join the Plankton Pioneers today!

SIGN UP NOW

Creature Feature: Beluga Whale

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scientific Name: Delphinapterus leucas

Size – 13 to 20 feet, 2000 to 3000 pounds

Life span – 35 to 50 years

Diet – Fish, crustaceans, and worms

 

Beluga whales are born to stand out—with their unusual white color, they are easy to spot and recognize. They aren’t always this color though. Baby Belugas are born gray or brown, and then fade to white as they mature sexually.

Compared to most whales, Belugas are small, ranging from 13-20 feet in length. They are also unique because they lack a dorsal fin, something most fish and marine mammals have. There are several other things that make Belugas special. They have a more complex way of communicating with one another, utilizing clicks, whistles and clangs, along with other sounds that they sometimes mimic.

Beluga whales can be found in the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean, and in subarctic waters as well. Belugas almost always live and travel in small groups call Pods. They migrate south when the ocean begins to freeze over and have to move quickly, otherwise they could be trapped under the ice and suffocate—or become an easy target for predators, like Polar Bears.

You might wonder why Beluga whales live in such a frigid environment. They have a thick layer of blubber (which can be as thick as 5 inches!) to help keep them insulated and warm. They also have a hard dorsal ridge along their back and a tough forehead, which helps them to swim through the icy sea water.

Beluga whales are truly amazing and beautiful creatures. Should you ever be near arctic waters, take some time and see if you can spot these fantastic white whales! They are worth the wait.

Sources: http://us.whales.org/species-guide/beluga-whale

http://www.defenders.org/beluga-whale/basic-facts

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/beluga-whale/

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

%d bloggers like this: