Sea Urchin for Critters

Cape Perpetua welcomed fourth graders from Sam Case Primary School to its Visitor Center on Friday morning. As the bus pulled up, we prepared ourselves for all the activities we were providing them. I was put in charge of making sure there was enough room for everyone to sit, I soon felt like I was in the middle of a stampede and decided to stand still in the corner until everyone found a place to plop down. A rush of emotions ran through my veins. We started by giving a brief history of the Siuslaw area and a brief overview of what we were going to be doing for the day. Then we introduced a few of the common species and basic guidelines to keep them and the animals safe. Afterwards everyone was broken up into their groups and it was time to let the fun begin.

First up, tide-pooling. Cook Chasm is a lovely spot for agate hunting and is just beautiful. Being that there was a 90% chance of rain, we were lucky that it stayed dry for pretty much the whole day because it would have been a little crazy to have been watching kids run around on basalt rocks in the rain. Right before you get to the tide pools, you can look back and see some sedimentary layers. One of which is called the Shell Midden, or archaeological evidence where indigenous people would come and clean their shellfish. We did find a lot of cool animals while we were down there. No birds but there were a few sea anemone, sea urchins and starfish and close enough to touch; some that were probably a little too close to the rising tide so we quickly climbed back up. There were also Velella velella(dead), mussels, and barnacles. Some people saw a shaggy nudibranch!

After the tidepools, we headed back to the Visitor Center and broke the classes into two groups one to do Naturalists journals and the other to do a Scavenger Hunt. It was fun to learn with the kids. After lunch, I felt a food coma starting to hit but our last activity was to hike to the Giant Spruce. I was excited to see what the kids reactions would be when we got there. The tree grew on top of a dead tree and as the other tree decayed it allowed the Giant Spruce to have a gap between it and the ground. Watching the kids run under and around and around the tree made me want to be 9 nine years old all over again! On the way back we all tried Licorice fern root. Hearing that it tasted similar to black licorice did not make it seem appetizing. But since I’ve heard about this plant I had to try it, it was pretty strong, and as the kids said it “It’s ew that’s disgusting, it’s ooo that tastes interesting!”  Exploring nature with kids is always interesting. They are so full of wonder and excitement, teaching them reignites my love for science. But I’m not gonna lie as soon as we got back, I was relieved to see the school bus!

Jasmine Buries
paisleydaisy347@gmail.com
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