Afternoon Ecology: Week 4, Fish: Just keep swimming, from bay to ocean

Earlier this summer, Dory found her parents and herself. This week at MSI, the kids in Afternoon Ecology found a new passion for slimy, swimming and single-gilled animals otherwise known as fish. The term “fish” is often misused, as we learned last week "Starfish" are not fish at all and correctly referenced as "Sea Stars". Fish come in a great variety of shapes and sizes but all have a number of things in common, such as lifelong gills and fin-shaped limbs. Today, we explored a variety of bony-fish, or fish that have a skeleton made of bony tissues. In class, the kids sat down and discussed exactly what makes a fish, a fish! They added key body parts to a picture on the whiteboard, drawing

Marine Science in the News: Some vocal fish have accents

Dolphins have accents? Sperm whales have varied dialects? Cod have different “voices”? Just like humans, some animal populations have unique ways of communicating and their accents vary throughout the ocean. We are familiar with whale vocalizations that vary by activity, and there is even variation between same species depending on where they live. We are also aware that dolphin call each other by name and they can remember those names, even if they haven’t seen each other for 20 years. While marine mammals show incredible intricate language and communication behaviors, the language of vocal fish had never been studied in depth until recently. A 2016 study from the University of Exeter exami

Marine Science in the News: Some vocal fish have accents

Dolphins have accents? Sperm whales have varied dialects? Cod have different “voices”? Just like humans, some animal populations have unique ways of communicating and their accents vary throughout the ocean. We are familiar with whale vocalizations that vary by activity, and there is even variation between same species depending on where they live. We are also aware that dolphin call each other by name and they can remember those names, even if they haven’t seen each other for 20 years. While marine mammals show incredible intricate language and communication behaviors, the language of vocal fish had never been studied in depth until recently. A 2016 study from the University of Exeter exami

Afternoon Ecology: Week 3, Wish upon a star...fish?

There’s a misconception that those star shaped animals we often find in rocky tide pools and beautiful clear Caribbean reefs are called starfish. When in fact, they are not fish at all. They are invertebrates, meaning they are an animal with no backbone, and are correctly known as sea stars. This week in Afternoon Ecology, the kids got to learn about different types of invertebrates. They compared and contrasted the same species from the bay and the ocean. Each developing their own set of adaptations unique to the environment they live. We gathered 3 examples from tanks in the aquarium room and placed them accordingly on the “bay side” and “ocean side.” Pairing into groups of two, the kids g

Afternoon Ecology: Week 2, Time to Dig Deep

Not many know what lies beneath the water on the ocean floor, but 10 lucky kids got to find out on this week's edition of Marine Science Institute Afternoon Ecology! The San Francisco Bay is a very unique environment, surrounded by a variety of habitats and filled with species found no where else in the world! Salt marshes have historically lined the edges of the Bay, creating layers of specialized mud. These layers are formed by plants decomposing on top of one another, developing a dense (and smelly!) mud habitat. In comparison, the ocean is lined by sandy beaches. Sand is created by ongoing erosion of rocks on shorelines, combined with shells and volcanic material. Today's activities incl

Marine Science in the News: The largest protected area on Earth

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is an established zone that provides lasting protection for ocean treasures. These delineated zones provide protective management for species preservation, biodiversity conservation or economic resources. Global MPA coverage (Fig. 1) is estimated at 2.8% as of 2013 (source: Protected Planet Ocean), meaning that 2.8% of the global ocean is protected by the conservation community, resource management authorities and by international and federal agreements. Figure 1. The most recent official map of MPAs. Image source: IUCN and UNEP-WCMC (Oct 2013). The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). Available at: www.protectedplanet.net. Recently, President Obama establi

Marine Science in the News: The largest protected area on Earth

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is an established zone that provides lasting protection for ocean treasures. These delineated zones provide protective management for species preservation, biodiversity conservation or economic resources. Global MPA coverage (Fig. 1) is estimated at 2.8% as of 2013 (source: Protected Planet Ocean), meaning that 2.8% of the global ocean is protected by the conservation community, resource management authorities and by international and federal agreements. Figure 1. The most recent official map of MPAs. Image source: IUCN and UNEP-WCMC (Oct 2013). The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). Available at: www.protectedplanet.net. Recently, President Obama establi

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