This final day started off early as well. Because of the email from the DEP we were able to do a restoration this week. This meant getting the grids out at low tide. This also meant getting a group of people together at Hadley Point to tie eelgrass onto the grids. I arrived at 5:30 and the work was already in full swing. Tables were set up and volunteers lined up along them working away. It was really great to see such an effort in action. When the boat arrived they sent off the grids that were ready to go, the rest of us continued tying on eelgrass. When we finished the volunteers headed out and Jane and I waited for the boat to return. It was really interesting to be at the shore in the early morning. At one point a local fisherman came down to collect mussels, but not before taking a dip in the ocean first. It made me reflect a little on the water quality testing we had done a few days before and also the bait pickle incident in Bar Harbor. I just imagine this fisherman morning routine and adding bait pickle to the water (in mass) might change that a little. It was also really interesting to talk to another local fisherman who happened to be a former high school student of Jane and neighbor of mine. It was a great opportunity to have a conversation with someone on the fishing side. We were able to voice our frustration with the bait pickle incident and he was able to express the fisherman’s side of it. I think that it was a conversation that benefited both sides. It was also nice to have him talk about the increase in life he is seeing in the bay. He has noticed flounder when he had not in years. Jane was able to point out the connection to the life he is seeing to the eelgrass. I liked to see the light bulb go off in his head. The conversation ended with him volunteering to dive for Jane if she needed it! A great conversation for both sides.
The rest of the day included a meeting about the Young environmental Leaders week. Jane and her interns have done a lot of planning for this event. I plan on coming back to check out as much of it as I can. There are many parts of this program that I can use in my class to help my own students become environmental leaders.
This was an amazing week, so much happened that if I had not written it down I am not sure I would remember. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this program and I know my students will benefit form my experiences. I look forward to possibly doing some water quality in the Surry area and maybe have an eel grass tank in my class. Mostly I am excited to share pictures and stories to my students about my week at the Bio Lab!
Today was an adventure! We were lucky to have a very low tide today, only it was at 5:24. The low tide was important because we were looking at the density of the eelgrass in the five areas. We did this by taking a quadrant 25cm by 25cm and observing the eelgrass plants in that area. The number of shoots, number of flowering, and three samples of height were all recorded. We also took a water depth at all five areas simultaneously.
Two cups of hot tea, a cup of coffee, a warm sweatshirt and we were ready to get back to work. At this point we took an early look at the water quality from the day before. When looking at these around 9:30 we saw that Sand Beach lagoon (collected by Acadia National Park Rangers), Bar Harbor Town Beach, and Hulls Cove Beach all had high levels enterococcus . That means that samples would need to be collected and retested. If these sites again have high levels than these beaches would need to be posted. When the tests were run at 1pm the levels were very high and the beaches were posted with notification to the public. The sites were retested later that day.
Jane received an exciting email from the DEP which sparked an impromptu team meeting. The DEP had granted her permission to include nutrient blocks with the new restoration grid without a new (time consuming and costly) permit. This meant we had the opportunity to do a restoration project this week. Lucky for us there would be an extreme low tide again on August 3rd, and it would be be another early day with low tide at 6:12 am. This sparked a conversation with the team. Question arose about the ability to get ready in time, the potential for altering future data for the original nutrient experiment, and and many logistical details that needed to be worked out. Since day 1 I have felt part of the team here and I have really enjoyed the meeting, listening in and participating when I can. There was something really cool about this meeting. There was a lot of back and forth between all involved with the project. The part that I found most interesting was the way everyone was treated as an equal. All opinions and questions were valued. They were also questioned. Ideas presented by student interns were valued and questioned in the same way Jane’s ideas were. There was respect with the way ideas were questioned and ideas and theories bounced back and forth until a plan was hashed out. I would love to see this sort of discussion take place in my class. Creating a classroom environment where everyone is comfortable with each other and they feel safe to take risks can be a challenge at the middle school level. There is always so much more going on in a middle school classroom beyond the learning. It is a big goal for me to work on classroom climate and look closer at the way we run discussions. I would love to see discussion in my class run like the one I saw in the lab today.
Today was an exciting and busy day. I feel like I saw a huge range of what this project is about and I also was a part of many things that I would love to incorporate into my classroom.
Yesterday we went to several beaches in the area to monitor the water quality. These beaches are a part of the healthy beaches program. The four beaches that we took samples from were Seal Harbor Beach, Bar Harbor Town Beach, Hulls Cove Beach, and Hadley Point. We had a fairly heavy rainfall in the early morning. By the time we went to Seal Harbor Beach things had started to clear off. This event reminded me of my water quality days at MDI high school. The morning really made me think about what sort of field testing we would be able to do in our area. I think the students would enjoy the work, but also having them learn the importance of consistency in data collection. There is so much that they could learn from an experience like this.
In the afternoon I was introduced to the grid making process. It is tedious work but at least the sun decided to come out. Jane joked that she may have to send grids for my students to string. I think that would be a great idea. I love the thought of my students being a part of this project in some way. They would be a part of the project knowing (or learning) that they are only a small part of a much larger effort to restore eel grass in Frenchman Bay.
I would have to say that the best way to describe the teacher internship program is that there is no description. I have felt immersed in the program and been a participant in many different roles. It has been wonderful. The day started with helping student interns practice their poster projects. This was hugely informative for me because it gave an overview of the program and all the work that is being studied. Then a group of us went to get grid frames that will later be put together and weighted with sandbags. Attached to the grids will be eel grass plants. These will then be placed in the bay in the restoration part of the eel grass project.
Before lunch we reviewed some of the student projects. It is amazing to see the work that these students are able to do in just a few weeks. For me as a middle school teacher it makes me think of what inspires students and gives them the passion for science. At my level we are more of an introduction to many of these topics. What can I do in my class to encourage them to dig deeper and participate in programs like this.
After lunch we put on our wetsuits to harvest eel grass at the Bar in downtown Bar Harbor. The most shocking part of our trip took place as we were mid harvest. While we were in the water and as children played on the shore a rusty old truck with a massive barrel pulled up to the shoreline. As we were in the water collecting flowering eel grass, this truck opened the drain of the barrel and released an enormous amount of “bait pickle”, it drained for about ten minutes. Bait pickle as I have learned is the juice at the bottom of the bait bucket, this includes dead and broken down fish. The smell was overwhelming. It was amazing to me that these fisherman had complete disregard for not only us in the water but to all the visitors participating in recreational activities on the beach. The eel grass patches in this area are covered epiphytes and look to be struggling. There were so many epiphytes that the plants were being weighed down. The question of the day would be does the bait pickle dumping have any connection to the condition of the eel grass???