Marine Camp 2016: Wetland Explorers Sneak Peak

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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.


June 13-17

June 20-24

June 27-July 1

July 11-15

July 18-22

July 25-29




Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Tools of the Trade

How do we explore the ocean? What tools and methods help scientists reach the depths and far reaches of the sea? This summer, our Underwater Investigators (entering grades 6-8) will explore these questions, and use some of the tools used in marine science.

We are excited for the opportunity to work with an OpenROV for this summer’s projects. “ROV” stands for Remotely Operated Vehicle. In marine science, ROVs are used to explore parts of the ocean that are difficult to reach by divers or even manned submersibles. Instead, we send robots—ROV submarines, to explore. Many ROVs are very expensive, large, and delicate, and there are very few that are used only by professional researchers and institutes. The OpenROV is changing all of that with their compact, and relatively inexpensive tools that anyone can pilot.

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The Underwater Investigator will have 2 days on our site, a day canoeing through sloughs, and a 2 days aboard our ship (including spending the night!). While on site, the campers will design and complete projects that use the ROV. They may ask questions that use the video data, or they may design attachments to use the ROV to collect samples of mud, plankton, or something else. The questions that can be examined with the ROV are limitless. They could include: Is the type of plankton that we sample on the surface of the water different from the plankton found deeper down? What is the make-up of the fouling community on our docks? How do different types of fish respond to the ROV?

We will only have this opportunity if we earn the grant for the ROV! We have reached our fundraising goal, but still need the followers! Please create an account and follow our expedition. You will receive awesome footage from our underwater robots, and updates on our projects.

**UPDATE (5/20/15) Thank you for your support! We have acheived our goal and are now proud owners of our own ROV! Campers will be the first to pilot MSI’s newest robot addition.**

In addition to using the ROV, campers will also explore other types of technology that is used to study marine science in the field. Light traps to collect animals drawn to light (especially at night), different types of nets, sensors and chemical tests to examine the water, even special equipment to sample water and mud, are all tools of the trade that campers will put to use. Understanding tools, and seeing their utility (and limitations) inspires questions and ingenuity. I am looking forward to discovering ways to put these tools to use!

Stewardship Monday: Inspiring Stewards

CCC at Pillar PointMarine Science Institute’s mission is to “Inspire respect and stewardship for the marine environment through experiential learning.” On Stewardship Monday I have covered a range of topics, rotating through themes month by month. These posts have been an overview and explanation of important concepts and issues relating to conservation and stewardship. Now I would like to shift gears to focus more on our mission of inspiring stewardship by answering questions from our stewards-in-training and offering suggestions to promote stewardship in your home and classroom.

Before a student at any age can dive into stewardship, their natural curiosity must be peaked and they must develop questions that they care about. These questions will drive them to learn more and discover their role.

What topics are you passionate about? Share your questions and interests, and allow me to explore them with you on Stewardship Monday.

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