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Marine Science Students Study Ocean Life Up Close and Personal

Marine Science Students Study Ocean Life Up Close and Personal
Meredith Berry-Toon

Experiential learning enhances studying any subject, especially one as complex as the diversity of marine organisms. That's why science teacher Cammy Roffe recently took her marine science students to Norwalk, CT, for a day of hands-on learning.

Students began their field trip touring the Maritime Aquarium, where they touched rays, and saw sharks, a large octopus, coral reef fish, seals, and many fish species from Long Island Sound.

After a quick lunch at the aquarium café, the students watched "Secret Ocean," an IMAX documentary that illustrates how marine animals are so critical to the vitality of the oceans.

In perhaps the most exciting part of the day, students boarded the R/V Spirit of the Sound to collect specimens they had studied all semester.

During the two-and-a-half long marine life cruise, they studied marine biodiversity from the water's surface down to the bottom for a first-hand understanding of Long Island Sound's interdependent marine life.

They utilized such sampling techniques as a plankton tow, trawl net, and bio-dredge that generally bring up a variety of fish, crabs, and mollusks out of Long Island Sound.

The students' findings contribute to long-term surveys of the organisms in the Sound.

"When we started doing this trip, there was maybe one nesting pair of Ospreys," said teacher Cammy Roffe, "On this outing, we saw at least ten nesting pairs. It speaks volumes to what humans can do if we set our minds to improving an environment. I love that my students get to see the organisms we discuss in the classroom and that they have an opportunity to participate in important scientific research."