Thursday, May 01, 2008

You Caught A What?

The primary marine science goal of our Cedar Key trip is that my students understand the importance of estuaries. It's not obvious from the surface that a few feet beneath the boat, the bottom is literally crawling with life.

So we intrude with our nets and bring up samples, mere glimpses really, of what lies beneath. In terms of net production and diversity, an estuary puts a forest to shame, but that's not obvious without intruding a bit.

Just going for a boat ride over the estuary waters is comparable to flying over the Amazon Forest canopy ... you wouldn't see the amazing variety of inhabitants for the trees.
So, we drop our nets into the rich brown water and intrude.

This is a decorator crab ... one of the spider crabs. The crab has attached a variety of living seaweed and even seagrass leaves to her carapace for camouflage.

I have been stung by a stingray before and the memory of the pain ranks above the amputated finger tip and the novacaineless root canal back in 1970.
You get the point.
So pretrip I was adamant about avoiding stingrays. "If you get one in the net, just flip them back into the water, don't touch them".
Also, in the classroom, I modeled the "stingray shuffle" which is a shuffling walk designed to warn rays and prevent you from stepping on them. You do it when you wade into new water where the rays may be resting.
I also told the kids to let your friend wade in first ...

Anyway, the point is they were supposed to avoid contact with rays. So when I returned to the island with the first boat crew, what did the island crew have to show me?

"We caught a stingray! It's in that bucket ... you gotta see it!"
What can you say in the face of that enthusiasm ... so I lifted it out, posed it, and then released it away from the students.

Batfish and Bling

Batfish are bizarre and common out here, but most of the kids had never seen one before so they were tres popular.
Batfish are very unfishy fish, easy to hold, easy to forget that this is a fish and needs water. I was constantly reminding one batfish fascinated girl to put him back in the water.
I can't blame her for being fascinated.

Here's a face only another batfish (and probably most Pure Florida readers) could love. We released all batfish as they never seem to do well in our classroom aquariums.

Today in class, we'll watch a PowerPoint featuring about 50 of the field trip pics and they will write to me about their experiences that day.

This may be the last work I get out of them this week ... tomorrow is Prom.

Their minds will be elsewhere ...


Hurricane Teen said...

Ha ha, that batfish's face is priceless! I can't really find a better way to describe that look other than "perfectly blank."

Hurricane Teen said...

...It's reminiscent of some of the students in my science class when the teacher asks them a question.

Doug Taron said...

The decorator crab picture is so cool. I was aware of them before, but didn't realize that they ranged far enough north to be found in this country.

Regarding your self-depricating comment yesterday about being "nothing special" as a teacher-- whatever. I'm having none of it.

robin andrea said...

Your class did get to see a lot of very cool critters. I especially like that decorator crab too.

Laura said...

I didn't know what a batfish was, either! The things I learn when I stop by your site. ;)

And uh "...let your friend wade in first?" LOL! Good one! ahem... ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mary Poppins, you DID bring some sunshine into the lives of these yunguns! What with bringing a ray aboard despite ample discouragement just means you've sparked some curiosity, which in this case wasn't a bad thing. You've taught them enough caution to keep them safe and skills requried to keep them that way.
As a retired yungun, I remember investigating the jetty and tidepools, looking at critters and water quality. THIS stuff is pure gold by comparison.
A+ FC. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Your adventures are always such a treat for this city girl who doesn't get out in nature as much as she would like, but savors every moment that she does!!

threecollie said...

I would rather attend one of those field trips than any ten proms!

Sharon said...

Batfish? Looks like the elephant man to me! :)

Eva said...

I love that batfish picture. And your field trip sounds like a lot of fun. There should be more teachers out there like you.

lej619 said...

I thought you said you taught the 7th grade? they are now having proms for them? if so all i can say is I'm glad my 2 are out and on there own.
If most teachers would teach the way you teach well I would almost want to go back to school. But I really dislike taking test!
I'll save my education to reading your blog. i'll get my education and some good laughs here.

Anonymous said...

Only a mother could love that face! update, Killdeer eggs not this time, toad strangler the other night.
Bro J

cedrorum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cedrorum said...

That bat fish has got to be the coolest fish I've seen in a while.

kathy a. said...

the batfish looks like a prom date i had once. but -- very cool field trip!

Alan said...

That critten looks like it stumbled in the dark through the middle of an ugly stick factory...

Floridacracker said...

There is a certan "Duh" factor to the expression.
Yet, who knows what lurks in the mind of the batfish ...

Doug T,
The crab diversity in the seagrass beds is pretty stupendous.
Thanks for the vote of confidence.

We didn't keep an official tally, but I bet we saw a hundred different animal species.

Well, maybe not your best friend, or your girl friend, but...

A+ ... cool.

I think that is what matters, the savoring, not the time spent.

And no expensive dress is required!!

He is a bit lumpy.

Thanks. There are teachers out there slugging away every day trying to make it real for the kids. I have the greatest respect for them.

I do, but I also teach high school marine science honors classes. We are a 6-12 school and I can do both. Glad PF gives you a smile once in a while.

Bro J,
Sorry to hear about that.

They definitely break the fishy mold.
"And now for something completely different ..."

Kathy A,

Maybe it's not his best side.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in northern NY, Lake Champlain area, what I wouldn't have given to take a marine science class in high school!
I work in an alternative HS with 9th graders for whom school hasn't been a great experience, probably ever. Even our most unmotivated and jaded kids would have right in there with yours digging through the dredge net, how could you resist!
Caroline in South Dakota

SophieMae said...

Awesome critters! What all did y'all take back to the classroom?

I laughed right out loud at the 'let your friend wade in first' advice.

You're giving these kids some wonderful memories, for sure. I tried to think of any memorable field trips our school planned... I can only actually remember 2... says something, doesn't it? One involved the sponge diving tour in Tarpon Springs. The other will live in infamy as the time I threw up and fainted in the one carpeted room (the polygraph room) at the Pinellas County sheriff's office / jail. Never did find out what caused my 15 minutes of fame. Rumour had it that the prisoners had poisoned the cookies and juice they had made for all us Junior Deputies. 8-]

ldybug said...

Thanks again for showing us the portrait of some bizarre creature we (I) live among down here in FL. I've been saining, and fishing all my life and have never heard of nor seen a batfish. You actually might want to watermark this photo, as a google image search yielded poor photos. This photo is good stuff. Well done.

Floridacracker said...

You must be an angel to work with ninth graders ... they are the most frustrating of any grade level.
I avoid them at all costs.
Bless you!

Yikes, never take cookies from a prisoner is the lesson I'm taking from that tale.
A little of everything came home... crabs, shrimp, fishes,starfish. Good stuff!

Glad you liked it. Thanks for that good advice... I've been thinking about marking photos on PF for some time, but haven't explored it.