Day 2: Marine Science Academy

Cape Lookout Lighthouse from the ferry on Twitpic

Isn’t that a wonderful view to start off the day? That is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse as seen from the Local Yokel Ferry carrying a group of middle school kids across the sound to the island. We spent our second day of the camp doing a number of activities on the island. The forecast was calling for a 60% chance of rain so we tempered our expectations for how the day would go, and luckily had nothing harder than a drizzle until we boarded the ferries to head back to the mainland.

During the day, students rotated through 5 stations. We spent about 45 minutes at each station. A brief rundown of each station:


Our kids got a brief introduction to geocaching today. With the use of handheld GPS units, groups went out and hid camouflaged containers for another group to find. They had to find a good hiding spot, record the coordinates, give a clue and then return to our home base. There they switched their coordinates with another group who went to find the hidden cache. The containers had a second set of coordinates for a cache which I hid near the base of the lighthouse containing a log book and disposable camera for them to photograph their geocaching experience. The kids loved the freedom to roam the island and finding the “hidden treasures.”


The next station had our students using lines and poles to collect data on the topography of a small section of the beach on the ocean side of Cape Lookout. The students collected data throughout the day and will be using this data Thursday morning to create a topographic map using Microsoft Excel in the computer lab.


Our groups also had a short discussion of various types of shells that can be found along the shores of eastern North Carolina. They saw examples of scotch bonnets, sand dollars, and whelk shells. Many students, despite living in the area their whole lives, didn’t realize that we do not have conchs living off our coast. The shells that are commonly referred to as conch shells here are actually whelks. Each student got a scotch bonnet of their own to take home as the North Carolina state shell.

Biological Sampling

Next our groups headed to a saltwater marsh area of the island to do some biological sampling. The counted snails in the marsh and will compare this number to the number they find in the man-made marsh behind the college on Thursday. They also used kick nets to sample fish and invertebrates near the island.

The final station had the kids doing some additional water quality sampling for the waters near the docks at Cape Lookout. Students collected dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature and turbidity readings to compare to those from the water’s behind the community college.

Tomorrow we head over to the Duke Marine Lab, go trawling on the Susan B. Hudson, and take a trip over to Shackleford Banks to do some research on the wild horses of North Carolina. I’ll leave you with a picture from the ferry of a few of the horses this morning. Expect many more tomorrow!

Wild horses on Shackleford Banks on the way to Cape Lookout..... on Twitpic


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