On Wednesday, April 5, 2017, the AP Bio Rockstars had the pleasure of going to the Pillar Point Marine Reserve in Half Moon Bay, CA.
Before heading over to the field trip, in class we looked at a Prezi made by LiMPETS and we educated ourselves on the different alga, sea anemones, sea stars, sea grasses, mussels, barnacles and other types of plants and animals living in the tidal zones. In class, we have been learning about different types of invertebrates, including molluscs and echinoderms. We got to see the animals we had seen on posters in real life and actually got to touch them! It was super cool to touch the sea anemones because the nematocysts they shoot out aren’t harmful to humans so their tentacles almost feel sticky I couldn’t stop playing with them. In class we had also learned about the molluscs so it was fun to observe their colonies and notice how strong they had to be to withstand the waves from Mavericks. The most memorable part of this field trip was everyone hunting for starfish on a specific rock, and I will remember being so excited when I found not one, but TWO sea stars hidden in a crevice!
Examining the biodiversity in two quadrants really helped me to learn how to look for species. When searching for certain species, such as hermit crabs, I had to peel back algae to really spot the critters and getting down and dirty was super fun! Just within 30 meters, the species change radically so comparing them was extremely helpful when comparing different tidal zones.
I really liked that this trip was more about exploring rather than fully being focused on calculating biodiversity. If I didn’t have free time to explore I feel like I would’ve missed out and wouldn’t have gotten the chance to see all the animals and plants I was able to spot. I think it would be fun to maybe add a scavenger hunt at the end so students will be encouraged to explore the area and get down and dirty. I would extremely recommend this trip and we were lucky enough to get some good weather!
Three things I learned on this trip:
- Sea anemone’s use shells on their cover when closed for both protection and to keep them moisturised so they don’t dry out when not underwater.
- LiMPETS doesn’t monitor all species because some species, such as algae, do not tell scientists anything about the ecology.
- A few years ago, the sea star population rapidly decreased due to a disease that caused sea stars to dissolve, but recently the population has been rebounding.