Team AP Bio had an awesome time at the Pillar Point tide pools exploring, discovering, and learning! We collected data for LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) on numbers and types of species we saw in the tide pools. This helps the organization learn about the ecosystem and see how its health changes over time — they monitor and take care of it!

¡Qué hermoso! Pillar Point in El Granada, California

This was by far the best school day I have ever had! I would 100% recommend this field trip for all future students! Although I was quite exhausted afterwards, that’s just because we were learning so much and having so much fun! I wouldn’t change anything about this experience (but remember to bring shoes you don’t mind getting a little wet).

I loved the service aspect of this trip because I think it enhanced our learning experience. Sure, it’s nice to sit in a classroom and learn, but when you’re out in nature and exploring, touching, and seeing things in person with your own two hands you’re going to remember everything a lot better! Also, I’ve always loved the ocean and its surrounding environments, and it felt amazing to be helping that ecosystem. Also, it was cool to be contributing to real scientific research whose effects reach all over California! If you ask me, this was my favorite kind of community service I’ve ever done.

But this trip doesn’t stop at fun and rewarding — it was also very educational. I learned about many different species of marine life such as hermit crabs, chitons (which are so cool), pink acorn barnacles, coralline algae, rockweed, surfgrass, turban snails, iridescent kelp, purple sea urchins, and anemones (try saying that three times fast) — just to name a few. Also, impress your friends with this fun fact about barnacles: they have the largest penis to body size ratio of any other animal. Their penis is 9 times the size of their body! This is because barnacles are stationary, so they can’t move to a mate to reproduce, instead their genetalia must be able to reach that far!

There was a HUGE Starburst Anemone! Photo courtesy of Mrs. Girard.

I also learned that some organisms are helpful to studying the health of an ecosystem, while others are not. While we were taking down observations and couting the number and types of species found in our quadrants, we only had to look for specific species. This is because some species are able to grow in ecosystems no matter the health or condition the environment is in. These species are of no help to LiMPETS because their abundance or lack-there-of will not help determine in what shape the ecosystem is in. But other species, like aggregating anemone and coralline algae, can only thrive under specific circumstances, thus their abundance can tell us information about the ecosystem!

Michelle, Cassandre (Michelle’s foreign exchange student), and I recorded data in our quadrant! Photo courtesy of Mrs. Girard.

It was extraordinary to learn first hand how strong mussels and barnacles are! They are sturdy little guys and capable of surviving even when being pumeled with crashing waves. The pressure they can withstand is astounding. We tried our best to avoid stepping on them, but sometimes it was unavoidable. But don’t fret! They didn’t break at all, and when we turned around to check on them they were alive and well.

What we’ve been learning about in class was invaluable to my experience on this field trip! We have been studying the kingdoms of life and are learning about Kingdom Animalia right now. Just the other day we learned about the Invertebrate Phyla. Cnideria, meaning “stinging nettle,”  have nematocysts which are harpoon-like structures that shoot out toxins. Lucky for us, we saw Giant Green Anemones, Sunburst Anemones, and Aggregating Anemones which are all part of Cnideria!

In class we’ve also learned about Echinoderms, which means “spiny skin.” These animals have no brain, are symmetrical, and have water vascular systems. An example of this that we saw at the tide pools were Sea Stars and Purple Sea Urchins! I loved seeing these organisms on the field trip and being able to think huh, I know about you!

Here’s a Prezi I made – play the videos to get a taste of AP Bio’s day at the tide pools!

Go Team! Photo courtesy of Mrs. Girard.