‘Afoot and Afloat’: summer campers learn how to ‘go blue’

Posted 8/7/19

The future marine biologists of the world gathered at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center this week.

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‘Afoot and Afloat’: summer campers learn how to ‘go blue’

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The future marine biologists of the world gathered at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center this week.

Eyes glued to their microscopes, kids from across the Peninsula and from as far as Seattle and Tacoma gathered at the PTMSC to look at plankton, inspect barnacles and gather test samples of water from the Salish Sea.

“This camp is focused on experiments and collecting research,” said Sophie Boyd, one of the camp leaders, who studied marine biology for her undergraduate degree. Leading a group of 11 to 14 year olds, Boyd explained how the students will be collecting data from the Admiralty Inlet, testing how the temperature of the water changes at different depths. Going out on sailboats, the campers took water samples at different points in the Port Townsend Bay.

“On the water we spotted harbor seals, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, and a lion’s mane jellyfish,” said Carolyn Woods, education coordinator with PTMSC. “Once we got back to land, each research group analyzed their data and created a poster to present their findings to the rest of the camp, and an audience of friends and family.”

Along with collecting data, campers spent each day in different labs. One day they learned all about barnacles, inspecting the arthropods closely to learn their different parts and why they are important for the ocean’s ecosystem. The next day, they found the extraordinary in the ordinary: looking at ocean water under microscopes to see the vital, tiny organisms that live in the water.

“We’re learning about all the cool things you can’t really see by the naked eye,” said Shelby Brzycki, who is 11 years old.

Bryzcki said she’s used to swimming in the ocean, but now she knows what she’s swimming with and why ocean preservation is important.

“It’s fun to see these kids interested in marine biology,” Boyd said. “It’s a way to introduce them to things they might not have the opportunity to see.”

At the end of the week, the different groups of campers synthesized their data and presented it to the group, following the same steps that marine biologists use in their daily jobs.

While they learned what it’s like to be marine biologists, the campers also learned about “Going Blue,” Boyd said.

In the same way that people try to “Go Green,” by conserving energy to reduce greenhouse gases, these campers learned that “Going Blue” is a new initiative to take care of the Earth’s oceans and its ecosystems.

“Our focus is conservation and restoration,” Boyd said. “We want to brainstorm ways to help the ocean and ‘Go Blue.’ The oceans are just as important as everything else.”

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center also offers camps for younger kids. From Aug. 12-16, it offers a “Junior Explorers” camp for ages 5 to 7, in which campers can spend the week exploring the coastal and intertidal zones.

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