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SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography or UC San Diego researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

You are cordially invited to April’s SEA Days event, “Party for the Planet,” a fun and educational party in honor of Earth Day! April’s theme continues that of last month (ocean acidification and climate change) and will be all about atmospheric chemistry! Atmospheric chemistry is the study of the makeup of the atmosphere, the abundance and distribution of greenhouse gasses, air pollutants, aerosol particles, and the changes induced by natural and anthropogenic (human-produced) processes. This is an important topic in the study of Earth’s atmosphere and the underlying chemical processes because it affects the environment through pathways such as air-sea exchange.

Our visiting scientist for SEA Days this month is Dr. Timothy Bertram, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego. Dr. Bertram teaches environmental chemistry and general chemistry and his lab focuses on atmospheric chemistry, climate change, and environmental sustainability. I recently sat down with Dr. Bertram to “dive deeper” into his area of expertise and to find out what he will be bringing to SEA Days.

 

Where did you go to college?
I got my B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, ME, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

What is your area of research?
My research group focuses on field observations of trace gases and aerosol with a specific focus on the factors that control oxidant loadings in the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere (known as the troposphere).

Who or what inspired you to become involved in atmospheric chemistry/marine science?
While I have always had a keen interest in environmental processes, it was while working as a Research Technician at the University of Hawaii that I refined this vision.  This was largely due to the mentoring of Professor Barry Huebert.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
Creativity, confidence, determination, and an abundance of curiosity.

Why is your research topic important?
Our research focuses on determining factors that control the lifetime of a host of greenhouse gases and the production rates of criteria air pollutants.  As such, our research efforts are relevant to both advancing our understanding of Earth’s climate and urban air quality.Bertram_teach

What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
I am still deciding what exactly to bring, but likely will have an array of portable sensors for measuring atmospheric particulates and trace gases.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
Study the fundamentals and make every effort to get into a laboratory as soon as possible.  This is where the topics you learn in school are shaped into problem solving skills.

What is your favorite ocean organism?
As an atmospheric chemist, the biology of the ocean is a complete mystery to me.

 

Join us on Saturday, April 19 for SEA Days: Party for the Planet—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

Dolphin Sightings Delight Whale Watchers

By Birch Aquarium naturalist Danielle Carter

Birch Aquarium is just past the halfway point of our 14th season of whale watching in partnership with Flagship Cruises & Events. So far, it’s been an incredible season, with over 400 whales spotted, including tiny calves and numerous breaches!

Photo by Marsha MacWillie.

Photo by Marsha MacWillie.

But gray whales are not the only marine mammals we have been seeing on our trips. So far, we have also been treated to multiple sightings of not just one, but four species of dolphin—common dolphin, Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Pacific white-sided dolphin, and Risso’s dolphin.

As its name implies, the common dolphin is the dolphin species we most commonly see out on the water. Common dolphins are about seven feet long, weigh close to 300 pounds, and typically travel in large pods. We have seen these playful dolphins on numerous trips and a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to witness a large pod of over 500 individuals! They were very active and to the delight of guests onboard, the dolphins came right over to the Marietta—bow riding, splashing in our wake, and leaping into the air with the style of acrobats. There were so many dolphins that they were literally surrounding our boat.

You know you’re having a good day out on the water when you’re not only seeing migrating gray whales, but also dolphins as far as the eye can see.

Whale Watching Season, December 2010 - April 2011

Of the four dolphin species, the Risso’s dolphin is the least common in our area. This season we have been lucky enough to spot pods of Risso’s dolphins on several of our trips, including a large pod of over 30 individuals. Risso’s are a larger species of dolphin and can reach lengths of up to 12 feet, and can weigh up to 1,100 pounds.

They have a very distinctive look, with a tall dorsal fin, a rounded head, and numerous white scars along their dark gray bodies. Calves are born solid gray in color, but accumulate scars as they mature from squid bites, parasites, and rake marks from other Risso’s dolphins.  As a result, mature Risso’s dolphins are nearly white in coloration, which along with their size makes them very easy to identify.

Risso's Dolphins

Risso’s Dolphins. Photo by Danielle Carter.

We have also recorded several sightings of the familiar Pacific bottlenose dolphins and the playful Pacific white-sided dolphins. Our whale watching season continues through April 13, so there is still plenty of time to go on an adventure out on the Pacific to witness the incredible diversity of dolphin species off our coast and of course the epic migration of the Eastern Pacific gray whale.

Want to see dolphins, gray whales, and more? Go whale watching with Birch Aquarium and Flagship Cruises & Events, now through April 13!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scripps Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of  “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

Chances are that you have heard conversations in your community or on the news about climate change and ocean acidification. Do you have questions about climate change and want to know more about current research? Are you curious about local research on ocean acidification? March’s SEA Days, Sea Changes, is your perfect opportunity to explore this topic! Saturday, March 15 at Birch Aquarium is all about ocean acidification and its effects on marine life.

Susan Kram, a research associate in the Smith Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, will be our visiting scientist for the day. She studies the effects of ocean acidification on temperate macroalgae in addition to managing the Scripps Water Acidity Monitoring Program (SWAMP). I recently sat down with Susan to “dive deeper” into her journey through the field of marine biology and what she will be bringing to SEA Days!

susankram

Where did you go to college?
I graduated with a BS in Biology from UC San Diego and graduated with an MS in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

What is your area of research?
I research the effects of ocean acidification on seaweeds and monitor ocean acidification off the Scripps Pier.

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
I have always loved the ocean and when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a marine biologist. My parents always brought me to beaches, aquariums, and tidepools, so that’s probably why I fell in love with it.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
Curiosity!

Why is your research topic important?
Ocean acidification is important because it has the potential to affect all marine life, but in different ways, which is why it is vital that researchers keep studying it.

What will you be bringing with you to SEA days?
For SEA Days I hope to explain ocean acidification by first explaining the concept of pH, which is a measurement of acidity.  Most people are already aware of pH (even though they may not realize it); I will demonstrate this using common household items.  My station will also include some local San Diego seaweeds and I will demonstrate how different species will be affected differently by ocean acidification.  Lastly, I will discuss efforts being made here at Scripps to monitor ocean acidification off the Scripps Pier.

Kram at a previous SEA Days event.

Kram at a previous SEA Days event.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
Find a science organization that appeals to you and volunteer there!  It’s the best way to develop skills and get some hands-on experience. Spend time in and around the ocean.  Watch the world around you and let your curiosity flow!

What is your favorite ocean organism?
Sea hare!

 

Join us on Saturday, March 15 for SEA Days: Sea Changes—there’s something for everyone!

SEA Days are 11 a.m – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free to aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

 

Diego Goes Whale Watching with Birch Aquarium

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student who recently participated in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego assisted the aquarium’s education programs and blogged about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

The whale watching boat, Flagship Cruises & Events’ Marietta, took off from San Diego Harbor at 9:45 a.m. It was smooth sailing as we exited into the open sea. Our naturalists Chris and Art spent most of the time narrating from the boat’s speaker system. Leaving the harbor, they talked about the history of the harbor and the various animals we saw—seals, seagulls, and even a couple common dolphins. Some of the guests mistook large seaweed floats for seals.

When we were finally in the open ocean, the boat slowed at the sighting of some smooth-looking water, which is an indicator that a whale is about to surface. The crowd awaited the whale with much anticipation; everyone readied their cameras. The whale surfaced and blew mist in the air. People raced to snap pictures of the whale as it emerged out of the water. Then it surfaced again, this time exposing its tail. When a whale exposes its tail before it dives under, the next time they will surface is anywhere from 3-5 minutes.

I got a chance to interview one of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps whale naturalists and take some footage of our boat’s whale sightings.

As we returned from the trip, some more common dolphins appeared on our starboard side to give us one last farewell. It was a very excellent way to spend a day, and as they say, “all’s whale that ends whale.”

Teaching Stories of Sandy Shores to Second Graders

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student who recently participated in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The internship program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego assisted the aquarium’s education programs and blogged about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

There are a wide variety of educational programs offered at Birch Aquarium. My personal favorite is Sandy Shores. Children in second grade learn how sand is made—from larger rocks into smaller and smaller pieces until it is sand. This program offers children a chance to learn and appreciate life in our sands. There are many creatures that call sand their home.

In Sandy Shores, there are three stations. At one station, students view different kinds of sand under a microscope and draw what they see on their paper. At another station, the group makes a creature of their own with an adaptation that would help them survive in the sandy shores. The third station is my favorite to lead. It’s the one where kids draw sandy shore animals and then get to touch them. “Only touch with two fingers, though. We want to be gentle with these little guys,” I remind them. One little girl asks, “Will the sea urchin hurt me?” “It doesn’t want to hurt you. It has those spikes to make sure other animals don’t eat it,” I reply as I show her they’re fine to touch.

White Urchin

When teacher Art Smart shows the second graders some sand littered with bits of plastics and other trash, there is a unanimous cry of “ewww.” After seeing white and coral sands, sand with trash is far less mesmerizing. Art explains to the students that all of the animals they see here—sand crabs, sea snails, sand dollars, and sea urchins—have adapted to living in the sand.

Learning to appreciate marine habitats such as the sandy shore is an important lesson for second graders. In fact, it’s important for everyone to learn about!

SEA Days: Diving Deeper with Scripps Scientists

by Camila Pauda, Volunteer Programs Assistant

Every month, the third Saturday is a special day at Birch Aquarium: SEA Days! As the tagline suggests, SEA Days are always full of “Science, Exploration and Adventure.” Visitors and members can meet a Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher and get hands-on with Scripps science, participate in activity stations, and get creative with a thematic craft.

February’s SEA Days, Listen Closely, is all about whales and whale acoustics. Did you know sound travels faster in water than on land? Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography use acoustics to learn more about whales—their population abundances, seasonality, and behavior.

One such researcher is Liz Vu, a fourth year Scripps Ph.D. candidate from the Scripps Whale Acoustic Lab, who will discuss her research at this month’s SEA Days on Saturday, February 15. To get ready for the weekend, I sat down with Liz to “dive deeper” into her interests and area of expertise.

Where did you go to college?

I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad, and now I’m at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, working on my Ph.D.

What is your area of research?
I research habitat modeling using marine mammal acoustics in the context of their reproductive, social and foraging behaviors.

Who or what inspired you to become involved in marine science?
I did not grow up dreaming to be a marine biologist. I managed to get an amazing internship opportunity when I was at UC Berkeley that introduced me to the interdisciplinary field of oceanography. The life of fieldwork, working on boats, and doing real-world science got me hooked!

Liz in the field in Antactica.

Liz in the field in Antarctica.

What qualities do you need in order to become a scientist?
First and foremost, do not be afraid of science!  I am a big fan of advocating science to younger versions of myself (read: woman and Asian-American) who may not necessarily want to pursue research science due to the illusion that it is boring or hard. Also, I believe in interdisciplinary education. In order to solve complex global problems, you need rigorous interdisciplinary training. Considering I love science, social sciences, economics, and political affairs, oceanography was a way I could mesh everything together.

Why is your research topic important?
I want to be able to inform the public and policymakers how endangered species may be affected by a change in their environment (brought about by a change in climate). Since our ocean environment is changing rapidly, it is important to understand where and why whales may go to a different type of habitat.

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Liz at a previous SEA Days event.

What will visitors to SEA Days: Listen Closely see?
I am bringing some acoustic equipment I use for my research. I also will bring some dolphin skulls, some samples of what dolphins eat, and some demonstrations of how I study whales in the ocean.

What is the best advice you have for people interested in becoming involved in your field of research?
It is very important to get a basic science education (whether or not it is called “marine”).  The basic principles of science and biology don’t change on a fundamental level whether you study whales, or plants, or microorganisms.  Therefore, if you get a good education studying any one ecosystem, you can still become a marine biologist!

What is your favorite ocean organism?
I will always love the right whale, one of the most vulnerable whale species right now.  However, I can’t leave out invertebrates, especially copepods (what some whales eat).  Invertebrates are so diverse and really cool!

Are you interested in a career in marine science? Do you want to learn what whale researches study? Or maybe you just love whale watching and want to learn more about these incredible mammals. Join us on Saturday, February 15 for SEA Days: Listen Closely—there’s something for everyone.

SEA Days are 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., are included with aquarium admission, and always free for aquarium members. Not a member? Join today!

SEA you there!

Kelp Forest Tank Reopens With a Fresh Look

From January 6 through February 7, 2014, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit was off display while minor repairs were made to the tank’s concrete structure. This is the last of three articles about the construction project and its developments. This important project was generously sponsored by the Moore Family Foundation.

 Post #1: Getting Ready

Post # 2: Repairs Underway

Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit was abuzz with activity as final preparations were made to reopen on Saturday, February 8. After repairs to corrosion leaks were completed, the 70,000-gallon tank was refilled with ocean water pumped from Scripps Pier. In the next few months, this nutrient-rich water will bring in seaweed spores that will settle and eventually grow into mature seaweed, complementing the giant, palm, and feather boa kelp already returned to the exhibit.

DSC_0265

Visitors will be pleased to see many of their favorite fishes—such as giant sea bass, rockfish, and sheephead—back from a five-week “staycation” behind-the-scenes. But that’s not all! To highlight the diversity of local kelp forests, aquarists added schools of fish that are often seen in southern California, including Pacific sardines and ocean whitefish. Also, look for zebra perch, opal eye, and half moon, too. Adding more grazing fish like these opens space for a greater variety of seaweeds to grow.

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Along with updated exhibit graphics, everyone at Birch Aquarium was thrilled to reveal the kelp forest community’s fresh look last weekend. Over the next few months, we’ll add more animals to the exhibit and the algae will start to grow on the rocks to give the tank the iconic look our visitors have loved for 20+ years. We invite you to visit and share your kelp-forest experience with us. For a special treat, check out a Kelp Tank Dive Show—every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday—or the Kelp Cam on the web.

- Kate Jirik

Beaked Whales: Listening Through the Noise

Nearly halfway through this whale-watching season, Birch Aquarium naturalists continue to enjoy their time aboard Flagship Cruises & Events’ 100-foot boat, the Marietta. Birch Aquarium’s 14-year partnership with Flagship brings together aquarium naturalists and a skilled crew to bring passengers memorable whale encounters. On Monday, February 10, Birch Aquarium will also host an evening lecture to describe how whales experience the ocean through sound. Read on to find out more.

A sailboat lurched out of the fog towards the Marietta’s port side. The two whale-watching boats seesawed in unison as waves broke and rolled under their hulls. Captain Will throttled the Marietta into idle. As the boat slowed, passengers waited quietly, hoping that the three gray whales we were following would surface nearby.

Captain Will navigated the boat skillfully. Fog from the west had blown in swiftly, and within 10 minutes, visibility plunged to 150 feet. We were in good hands, though—this was an experienced crew. As we continued onward, my thoughts wandered to Birch Aquarium’s recent Perspectives on Ocean Science lecture and how whales would have no difficulty traveling in such fog.

Whereas humans predominantly navigate using vision, whales rely on hearing. This is particularly relevant for beaked whales, which have poor vision but exceptional hearing. These whales are among the deepest diving mammals. A beaked whale recently set a new record by diving to 9,800 feet for more than two hours! On deep dives, beaked whales use echolocation to hunt deep-sea squid.

Baird's Beaked Whale. Image from: http://cetus.ucsd.edu/voicesinthesea_org/species/beakedWhales/bairdsBeaked.html

Baird’s Beaked Whale. Image from: http://cetus.ucsd.edu/voicesinthesea_org/species/beakedWhales/bairdsBeaked.html

Still, many other aspects of their biology remain a mystery. As deep divers living in the open ocean, beaked whales are elusive and challenging to study. Basic information is lacking for many of the 21 known species. With so little chance of visually sighting these animals, biologists have turned to the sounds beaked whales make for answers.

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Simone Baumann-Pickering presenting her findings at Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

Simone Baumann-Pickering, a research scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, studies the distribution of beaked whales and how human activities may influence their behavior. Her laboratory uses stationary sound-recording devices and computer algorithms to distinguish the sounds of beaked whales echolocating from a background of other ocean noise. So far, Baumann-Pickering and her team have identified 10 species-specific echolocation signals—10 unique sound patterns to monitor each species’ presence in the Pacific Ocean. Some of these species had previously only been known from stranded individuals. Her discoveries of novel echolocation signals, which do not match known species, may also be evidence of beaked whales new to science.

“The deep is anything but silent,” Baumann-Pickering says, and the baseline data her lab is collecting will be invaluable in decades to come. With increasing human activity at sea, the planet’s ocean soundscapes are changing. During February’s Perspectives on Ocean Science lecture (see below), whale biologist Ana Širović will discuss whales’ sensitivity to sound exposure and how human use of the ocean may be influencing their communication. Scientists and whales alike are busy sifting through the noise.

- Kate Jirik

 

Birch Aquarium whale watching tours depart twice daily at 9:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. from Flagship Cruises & Events at 990 North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego.

 

Monday, February 10

Can You Hear Me Now? Animals Coping with an Increasingly Noisy Ocean

Ana Širović, marine bioacoustician

Many marine animals produce a variety of audible as well as infra- and ultra-sonic sounds for navigating, finding food, mating, and many other vital behaviors. With human use of the world’s oceans on the rise, background noise levels in the marine realm are increasing. Join Ana Sirovic as she discusses how ocean noise varies across the Pacific Ocean and what this may mean for whales, fishes, and other animals that rely on sounds for their survival.

7 – 8 p.m., Doors open at 6:30

Location: Birch Aquarium

Kelp Forest Tank Under Construction: Repairs Underway

From January 6 through February 7, 2014, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest exhibit will be off display while minor repairs are made to the tank’s concrete structure. Our aquarists will also use this opportunity to freshen the exhibit’s look with new animals. We are grateful for your support so that when the exhibit reopens on February 8 [subject to change], visitors will enjoy an even better representation of Southern California’s kelp forests. Our popular kelp tank dive shows and web cam feeds will also resume at this time.

This is the second of three articles describing the construction project and its developments. Post #1: Getting Ready

In early January, Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest tank was drained to begin repairing areas of rusted rebar in the tank’s back wall. With a two inch-diameter drain hole regularly used to clean the tank, aquarists drained the 70,000-gallon tank. The water level inched down the tank’s 12-foot high acrylic window, taking a day to completely drain.

Kelp Tank Repair 2014

The window’s manufacturers were also onsite to monitor and learn from the draining process. Brad McKee, a structural engineer from Reynolds Polymer Technology, traveled from Colorado to La Jolla to study how the tank’s 10-inch thick acrylic responded to the release of water pressure. In aquariums, acrylic is valued for its clarity, strength, and elasticity. Because acrylic is plastic (not glass), a large aquarium window such as the one in the kelp tank will flex as the weight of water is removed. This deflection, as engineers call it, is predictable and not permanent. Measuring with carefully positioned dial instruments every 15 to 30 minutes, Brad found that many areas of the kelp forest window experienced deflection of one quarter to half an inch—very close to what was predicted.

In order to reach the draining stage of the project, aquarium staff planned for months to get everything ready. An important final step in this preparation was the removing of the tank’s seaweed collection and its 200 animals (30 species) to other display tanks and/or off-exhibit temporary housing. For example, some seaweeds were moved to Tide Pool Plaza and a few fishes (such as the guitarfish, yellowfin croaker, and others) were moved to ElasmoBeach. In January 2014, Birch Aquarium’s husbandry staff moved the remaining giant kelp and animals. First, aquarists moved seaweeds and smaller fishes using hand-held nets. Then, the large fishes, including leopard sharks and a 200-pound giant sea bass, were moved. Having worked with these fishes for years during feedings, dive shows, and while performing tank maintenance, our aquarists have an in-depth understanding of the animals’ behavior that ensured the entire process would run smoothly.

SAMSUNG CSC

Outside the tank, contractors from Hamilton Pacific, Inc. are repairing corrosion in the kelp forest tank’s rear wall. The process began by drilling into the concrete six inches and injecting a high-pressure epoxy to fill the tank’s cracks. Zinc anodes, which prevent corrosion by drawing stray electrical current away from wall-supporting rebar, are inserted into holes near the epoxy (see photo). Anodes and rebar are then connected by external wires. Handfuls of concrete slurry are massaged into the holes to cover the zinc anodes.

SAMSUNG CSC

In early February, the kelp forest tank will be refilled with seawater pumped to Birch Aquarium via Scripps Pier. Birch Aquarium’s husbandry staff will again be on hand to watch the seawater crawl back up the glass, a few inches at a time. Once the tank is refilled and the animals are returned, the kelp forest exhibit will reopen to the public, representing the diversity found in the kelp forest off La Jolla’s coast even better than before.

In our next blog post, we wrap up the construction project and get ready to reopen the exhibit.

- Kate Jirik

High Tech High Intern Diego’s Aquarium Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diego Cicero is a High Tech High Media Arts student currently participating in a month-long internship at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The program is designed to foster personal growth and help students acquire workplace skills in a real-world environment. Diego is assisting with the aquarium’s education programs and blogging about his experiences.

By Diego Cicero, High Tech High intern

My high school, High Tech High Media Arts, has given all of the junior students opportunities to be an intern at a location of their choosing. This benefits not only the organizations but also the students, getting a feel for the day-to-day tasks of a job or career. It also opens up doors for us in the future if we choose to return to the organization. I have been interning at Birch Aquarium for two weeks in the education department.  My wonderful mentor Audrey Evans has shown me the “ins and outs” of the building.

For me, being amongst people who love their jobs gives this place the best work environment I have experienced thus far. The education staff is passionately dedicated to teaching classes at their utmost performance level. The volunteers and employees help to keep Birch Aquarium a well-oiled machine.

I have observed and participated in classroom programs Earth Rocks, Sandy Shores, Tide-Pool Treasures, and several Explore Its/Think Tanks. Sandy Shores is a lesson on how sand is made. Kids see how sand looks under a microscope and touch a handful of animals in tubs. Earth Rocks is a lesson on tectonic plates. Tide-Pool Treasures is a class on the habitat and life of tide-pool animals. In this one the children touch sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and wavy top snails. Though they have main objectives and goals, the activities I have observed don’t have set scripts that the instructors need to follow, which means the audience gets more of a personal touch.DSC_0111

The children love hearing information on the residential sea life. The adults as well have more meaningful conversations about the aquatic life with the Birch Aquarium staff. The personal highlights of my days here are when I get to be around the various sea creatures. Getting the chance to have a hands-on experience that most others don’t get with these animals is one of a kind.

In my time here so far I have gotten to observe several classroom activities, get a behind-the-scenes look at the aquarium, meet the faces that work for this amazing institution, and most of all take in the beauty of this wonderful place I call home. High Tech High has set me up with this wonderful opportunity and for that I am very grateful. My time here has been fantastic to say the least.