On Saturday, two groups of teens from the California Academy of Sciences and Nature Bridge gathered at Pillar Point marine sanctuary in Half Moon Bay. This wasn't a casual beach-day hangout. The goal was to support marine education for our local communities.
Nature Bridge is a nonprofit that leads hands-on environmental science experiences for young people all around California. Among their many programs, they bring marine animals to young people, so they can understand and appreciate our local marine ecosystems better. To do this, they have to go out and collect marine specimens to bring to their science center on a regular basis, replenishing their supplies of seastars, anemones, mussels, crabs and more.
So the teens' mission for the day was to collect as many selected marine animals as they could within the low-tide period at the Pillar Point sanctuary. It was actually pretty hard work -- wading out into the frigid waters, using scientific collection tools and methods, carefully searching among dense kelp and seaweed for tiny marine animals that were typically very camouflaged. And to actually capture and collect the creatures was often quite challenging. Carefully coaxing a sea star or an sea urchin from it's rocky home takes patience and practice. And sweeping up a fast moving kelp crab or sculpin fish into a net is pretty tricky!
Watching the teens go from unsure and squeamish to dogged and enthusiastic in their pursuit of hard to find specimens was really awesome to witness. And it could not have been a more beautiful day to be by the Pacific. I feel so fortunate to get to accompany our teens on this awesome local expedition.