Staff Blog Post: Working together and overcoming fears through scientific monitoring

Staff blog: Working together and overcoming fears through scientific monitoring
By Cindy Wilems, Director of Education 

During a Students In Action event this summer at Galveston Bay Foundation’s Trinity Bay Discovery Center, I had a group of students from Texas A&M at Galveston Sea Camp’s high school scientific research camp collect baseline data of aquatic organisms found near a newly-constructed oyster reef using a seine (fishing net).

They spent an hour seining and the data we found was very interesting! The reef was completed in mid-July and the student’s data showed aquatic organisms are flourishing near the new reef. The students found shrimp, blue crab, bay anchovy, gaftop catfish, menhaden, silversides, sand trout, and tonguefish. Galveston Bay Foundation’s goal is to collect data quarterly over a few years. We will then be able to concretely show the importance oyster reef breakwaters have on aquatic organisms.

Afterwards, I was told that some students were afraid to go in the water the previous day. The chaperones were shocked that those students went in the water willingly with me, and actually volunteered to help with the seine net. I can’t help but believe that they overcame their fears in part because I spent a great deal explaining the property, why we built the reef, and how important their work that day was going to be for Galveston Bay Foundation.

It was great seeing the students learn how to identify the different organisms and, more importantly, how to work together to collect quality data. They learned that it was critical to communicate clearly and not talk over each other, which can be challenging for anyone when standing in waist-deep water holding jumpy shrimp! In the end, the students had a great time, collected fantastic baseline data for us, and enjoyed eating lunch at the Center.