St. Didacus Students Visit the Floating Marine Lab

The seventh graders at St. Didacus Parish School recently participated in the San Diego County Office of Education’s Outdoor Education program called the Floating Marine Lab. Students boarded the vessel Old Glory from H & M Landing in Point Loma. After reviewing safety rules on the boat, students dropped an otter trawl to capture animal life in San Diego bay. While this was happening, they learned how to use different instruments for measuring physical ocean features. When the otter trawl was pulled up – which took every student’s help – the results of the catch was examined.

This year the students caught a round stingray, a tonguefish, a hornhead turbot, California halibut, a sand bass, and several midshipman. They also caught some invertebrates like snails, sponges, shrimp, a sea hare crabs, and clams. The instructor reviewed the main characteristics with the students. The boat then traveled to a bait dock between Coronado and Point Loma where students could observe sea lions and bird life. There was a mysterious seal amongst them and Sea World was called to see if they were missing a seal!

After a short morning break, students were then divided into four groups and did four different investigations in a round robin rotation. One rotation was Physical Oceanography, in which the students measured wind speed and direction, water clarity, current direction, water depth, and water color. The second rotation was the mud grabber in which students use a mud grabber to examine the organisms found in the ocean floor. Most groups found clams, worms, crabs and snails. The third rotation was the touch tanks. Students were able to touch the morning’s catch and re-examine the information provided by the instructor earlier. The last rotation is the plankton lab. Students dropped a plankton net multiple times each, and got a sample of the water in the bay. Then they went inside the galley and examined the sample under a microscope. The instructor identified the microorganisms in the water with the students. Some of these were: protozoa, copepods, crab zoes, bivalve larvae, shrimp larvae, and gastropod larvae.

Students returned to H & M Landing around 12:45 pm and enjoyed lunch outside watching the fishing groups returning from morning trips, heading out in new groups, and the life of the marina. It was a great day and excellent way to have a hand-on experience of many of the animals they have studied this semester in science.