How do you feel about the deep blue sea

The first week of EcoAcademy has come to a successful and exciting close. First, starting out fairly slow (and super stressful, I might add), has found its niche in its own respectfully spirited groove. So far, amongst other things, the week has taught me how grateful I am for my prior camp experience. For what I've learned is that it's always tough to make an impression on young kids right at the start, especially amidst all of the fresh excitement. Today was, by far, the best day we have had as a marine science team. My kids have already taught me just as much as I have taught them, and I am constantly amazed by this. For we have all equally become the educators as much as we have become the educated.

Some of the various activities that we have had the opportunity to partake in this past week were dissections of squid and red snapper; kayaking to Oleta Island and snorkeling in the sea grass in Biscayne Bay; discussions of plankton, diatoms, whales, saltwater density, and waves; fish printing, and marine animal collection for our classroom touch tank aquariums. Never did I realize that I would be surround by such aquatic diversity. Below are some pictures of some of the wildlife we captured for our touch tanks (not actual pictures).

Scorpion Fish
Brittle Star
Tulip Snail
Barracuda (we seine netted much smaller ones)
And this little fella...
... just kidding ;)

One of our fellow counselors also discovered a lion fish in the cove by the beach. These fish are an invasive species to Florida, and even though they tried their damnedest to catch this cheeky bastard, they were unsuccessful at removing it from its foreign environment. Invasive species are common in all areas of the world. Some of our most invasive here can be found in the Florida Everglades--think pythons, anacondas, and lizards, oh my! I met someone here recently who spends some of his time hunting for these reptiles. He calls himself a "herper" (short for herpetologist--study of amphibians and reptiles), and goes out to swampy areas or dense brush to find these creatures. Yesterday he succeeded in pulling off a poor lizard's tail--sorry, no picture to follow.

I have met so many other biologists here that have an amazing amount of knowledge in a wide-range of animal life. And even though many of these scientists spend a fair amount of their time tracking invasive species and studying their effect on the their nonnative environments, we've all been able to at least come to the mutual consensus that this is nature, and there sometimes are things that you just cannot control, nor shouldn't. The sad truth is, is that almost all of these invasive species here in Florida, and everywhere else in the world exist in foreign environments because our own carelessness--a behavior of our species, which cannot be changed. This is why I tell myself everyday, that what I am doing here must be done for myself... because I really don't believe that I can change the world. Call it cynicism, or whatever you like... but I think our inevitable goal in life is to feel that doing good in our hearts does good for all. If you believe in what you are doing, then the world has to be fine.


er!ca said…
"For we have all equally become the educators as much as we have become the educated." I love this line. Maybe I'll posterize it and hang it in my classroom. (I'll credit you, of course!)

I used to have brittle starfish in my salt water tank. They're so creepy, but fascinating.

You may not be changing the entire world, but you're effecting change in more than just yourself. The kids you're teaching at camp, your friends, the followers of your are teaching all of these people new and exciting things, and most likely opening their eyes to new passions, ideas, habits and topics. Keep teaching us all and you'll be doing your part to change the world.

I'm so happy for and proud of you ♥

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