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

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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!

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Creature Feature: Fairy Basslet

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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

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.

WETLAND EXPLORER SCHEDULE:

June 13-17

June 20-24

June 27-July 1

July 11-15

July 18-22

July 25-29

 

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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!

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Creature Feature: Spinner Dolphin

Common Facts:

Scientific name – Stenella longirostris

Diet – Small fish and squid

Size – 6-7 feet, 130-170 pounds

Lifespan – up to 20 years

Most of us are familiar with dolphins—the fun and playful porpoises that can often be seen leaping out of the water to socialize with each other and with humans. One type of dolphin that you may not be as familiar with is the Spinner Dolphin.

Spinner dolphins are named after their above the water theatrics—they love to leap out of the water and spin a few times on their body axis while doing so. Some can spin as many as four times around in one leap.

These dolphins love to stay together and are usually found in huge groups. They do their hunting at night, feeding mainly on mid-water fishes and deep-water squid, and then they rest during the day time.

Spinner dolphins can been found all over the world, mainly in tropical and subtropical oceans. For some reason, Spinners tend to follow groups of Yellowfin Tuna around. Because of this, fishermen seeking Tuna will often track the dolphins in order to get to them. Oftentimes, the dolphins are caught in the nets with the tuna, and because of this, their population is decreasing.

Thankfully, “Fishing methods for tuna imported into the U.S. under the Dophin-Safe program do not allow fishing practices, such as setting on dolphins.” The Spinner Dolphin population is at a stable number right now.

So if you are ever in a warm and tropical area, close to the ocean, stay alert to see if you can see any Spinner Dolphins. If you do, you are in for a show!

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Sources: http://acsonline.org/fact-sheets/spinner-dolphin/

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/cetaceans/spinnerdolphin.htm

Written by: Kari Shirley, intern

Marine Camp 2016: Summer Camp Scholarship Fund

Boat GG bridge

Fun foggy day on the Bay with our middle school campers

The experience of summer camp offers profound positive effects that last for years. It is a special type of community where kids come together to have fun and develop a level of independence resulting from exploring adventures away from home. They make new friends, learn away from the classroom and keep their minds and bodies active while being engrossed in outside activities. At the Marine Science Institute’s Marine Camp, campers are engaged and challenged to explore the natural world and consider their connection to it.

Throughout the year MSI provides marine science education to inspire students and the public to explore the largest Pacific estuary in North and South America, as well as our nearby Pacific coast. We are dedicated to providing funding for these school programs year-round, and we attest to the importance of continuing access to these opportunities in the summer. Every child deserves an opportunity to go to summer camp and we recognize that some families might require a little help.

Our Marine Camp Scholarship Fund offers support for children from families who would otherwise not be able to afford camp. Every child deserves an opportunity to go to camp and we recognize that some families might require a little help. The Marine Camp Scholarship Fund is supported entirely by the charitable donations of our community. Please consider donating to our Marine Camp Scholarship Fund to invest in the future of young marine scientists. Thank you for your consideration.

blue DONATE fish

Marine Science Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not for profit organization
©2016. All Rights Reserved.

Creature Feature: Great White Shark

Common Facts:

Scientific name – Carcharodon carcharias

Diet – carnivore

Size – 15-20 feet

Weight – 5,000+ pounds

Protection Status – Endangered

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the name, Great White Shark? Jaws, shark attack, predator, etc. While the Great White IS a top predator and carnivore, that deserves respect and space, Great Whites are not as scary as society has portrayed them to be. They are not predators of man.

Great White Sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world. And they definitely have an intimidating look to them. They can reach up to 20 feet in length (sometimes even more!) and over 5,000 pounds. Great Whites have gray upper bodies that help them blend in with the ocean floor, but they get their name from their white bellies. “They have a conical snout, pitch black eyes, a heavy, torpedo-shaped body, and a crescent-shaped, nearly equal-lobed tail fin that is supported on each side by a keel.”

Great Whites are built to hunt. “Their mouths are lined with up to 300 serrated triangular teeth arranged in several rows, and they have an exceptional sense of smell to detect prey.”  Free-diving with these guys is not encouraged, but there are those that have done so and lived to tell the tale. Great White Sharks prey mainly on sea lions, seals, small toothed whales and even elephant seals.

Most attacks on human are not to eat or kill. Great Whites are curious and most “attacks” on humans are just out of curiosity to see what we are/taste like and most incidents are not fatal. Not the most comforting thing to hear, but it’s good to know we are not a normal menu item for Great Whites.

While experts are unsure on the size of the Great White’s population, it is agreed that their numbers have been dropping because of overfishing. They are considered a endangered species, so if you catch one, let it go!

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Sources: http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=38

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/great-white-shark/

Written by: Kari Shirley

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Plankton Pioneers, Small but Mighty

Our Plankton Pioneers (campers entering kindergarten thru 1st grade) are in for an exciting week. Just like real plankton, our Plankton Pioneers are small but important, and are beginning a hopefully long journey with MSI. We have had some MSI stars that started as Plankton and have swam their way through all the camps to become volunteers and even counselors!

Touching a leopard shark

Touching a leopard shark

A week of Plankton Pioneer camp opens campers’ eyes to the magic and wonder of marine life. Learning about and touching live animals in a safe and exciting environment inspires excitement about science, and an awe of nature. Campers won’t even realize that they are learning as they play, dance, and sing about the animals and habitats that they are experiencing first-hand.

Some favorite games include the “Plankton Game” and “Marine Yoga”. These simple activities get bodies moving and imaginations flowing—and they reinforce concepts about the animals campers have seen! In the “Plankton Game” our Plankton Pioneers act like (what else?) Plankton, and “drift” with their leader “the water” through whirlpools, waves and changing tides! For “Marine Yoga” our Plankton stretch their imaginations to pose and act like their favorite animals—they reach with their tentacles like an anemone, walk like a crab and jump like a shrimp. We love to see smiling faces and hear giggles and laughter as our campers remember all of the different animals that they have touched.

Each day of camp has a special theme that introduces campers to different aspects of marine science, plus, of course, Boat Day! The games, songs and animals that campers see each day pertain to these themes. Each of the days spent on land also feature a fun craft! Your camper will come home with a colorful creation related to what they learned about every day—a perfect souvenir and conversation starter.

Space is still available for your budding biologist, sign up today!

Stewardship Monday: Household Hazardous Waste

A recent report released by the San Francisco Estuary Institute showed that “contaminants of emerging concern” (CECs) have been detected in our waterways. These CECs include pesticides, pharmaceuticals and nutrients that can cause an impact on water quality. How do they get into the water that we drink?

Some of these CECs get into our watershed with little interference. Any substance that is sprayed or scattered on the ground—in our yards, on the road or on farms, eventually gets washed down the watershed. It is important to remember that storm drains do not get filtered, so anything that gets left on the ground (from litter, to pet waste, to plant food) will end up in the Bay. Even things that get buried (as in a landfill) can affect the water. Ground water soaks through the earth and flows to the Bay the same way water on the surface does.

There are also items in our homes that can affect the water. Household items such as CFL light bulbs (the twisty kind), batteries, medicines, electronics and cleaning products contain chemicals. They are safe to use in your house, but can be harmful to the watershed if not properly disposed of. Most pharmacies and police stations can safely disposed of unused medicines (which are not always removed by wastewater treatment), and many communities have household hazardous waste stations and e-waste collecting stations that properly dispose of or recycle products with hazardous waste. Find the right way to dispose of household hazardous waste where you live!

There are non-toxic options for cleaning supplies!

In addition to disposing of waste properly, you can do your part to keep chemicals out of the water (and your home) by finding alternatives to the chemicals that we use on a regular basis. Here are some less toxic recipes for household cleaners!

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