For this pay-what-you-can Coastal Biology day program, we welcomed 6 girls to Hobie Beach on Virginia Key in Miami. We spent the morning snorkeling through seagrass beds and getting hands-on with coastal marine species that we worked together to catch in a seine net. We brought these animals back to shore in jars, and spent a few minutes learning about their special features before we identified them using local ID guides. We were fortunate to get up-close with some spotfin mojarra, beautiful pipefish, a Cassiopea (upside down jellyfish), and several different species of shrimp! Not bad for 3 pulls of a seine next to a crowded public beach!
We then took a break and talked about what it’s like to pursue a STEM education and have a career in a STEM field. We were fortunate to partner with Miami-based non-profit Blue Backyard on this program, whose Drs. Catherine Macdonald, Julia Wester, and Kristine Stump shared their different perspectives and paths to their own careers as research scientists and educators in their STEM fields.
We finished up our program with a discussion and activity on marine pollution. Our friends at Debris Free Oceans gave us some horrifying facts about Miami that we shared with each other, including that Miami disposes of 700,000+ straws/day, which is just a small portion of the 500 million straws that Americans throw out every day. Or how about that plastic enters the ocean at a rate of 1 garbage truck per minute?! In response to this frightening information, we each came up with 1 or 2 things we’re going to commit to doing on a daily basis to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics. We then split up into teams and had a competition to see who could collect the most garbage from the beach in 15 minutes. (It was also so sad to see how much we found in only 15 minutes!) We managed to finish the program on a happier note, and still feel inspired by the awesome girls that we met and explored alongside.
Thank you to our participants, their parents, and our fantastic volunteer Instructors! 🙏🏼 Stay tuned for a video!