provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Sanibel Sea School hosted fifth-grade students from Upthegrove Elementary School in LaBelle for their fourth and final field trip this academic year. After their hour-plus travel, students were thrilled to run out to the gulf-side beach and explore the topic of the day: mollusks.
First, we spread out along the beach into smaller groups to complete a squid dissection. “Dissection is a great way to learn about anatomy and how form fits function,” said Sanibel Sea School Marine Science Educator Brianna Machuga. “I can tell students that a squid’s mouth is called a beak but it’s better when they’re able to look between the arms and tentacles and see for themselves how the upper and lower jaws are shaped just like a bird’s beak.”
As the fog cleared, we dipped into the chilly gulf to search for live mollusks! We shifted our focus from cephalopods to gastropods and bivalves. Students used dip nets, sieves, and their hands as tools to get a closer took. We encountered coquinas (Donax variabilis) and a Florida fighting conch (Strombus alatus). To end the day, we went on a beach walk to search for shells. Students learned how to identify different species and collected some favorites to take home.
These field trips are part of Sanibel Sea School’s outreach effort to explore the ocean with students who might not otherwise have these opportunities because of financial or geographic barriers. The trips are provided completely free to students thanks to Sanibel Sea Schools scholarship fund. Many of these students had never been to the beach or to Sanibel before their field trips with Sanibel Sea School. Planning is underway for students to return next school year.
If you would like to support these efforts, visit the sea school’s website or email email@example.com to learn more.