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Day Four on St. George

01 Dec 2017, by admin in Education

We started the day making a puffin chick bread load. Waylon even found a dried cherry with a strange shape that looked like the mini horn for a horned puffin chick.

The older kids and I discussed why seabirds are good indicators of the marine environment, and we talked about the connection between water temperature, prey species (fish and zooplankton) and seabirds.

We used balloons to simulate seabird stomachs and paper cutouts to represent zooplankton and fish. We dissected (popped!) the balloons to see what birds had been eating under different oceanographic conditions (warm water and cold water). We found that our two fish-eating seabirds (thick-billed murre and black-legged kittiwake) had more food in their stomach during a year with warm water, whereas the two zooplankton-eating seabirds (least auklet and crested auklets) had more food in their stomach during a cold year.

Colder water temperatures may increase the abundance of large zooplankton, and warmer waters can result in the availability of more forage fish. So, in general, piscivores (fish-eaters) do better in warmer years, and planktivores (zooplankton-eaters) do better in cold years.

These results showed us that it is important to study a range of species with different foraging habitats and diet if we are interested in understanding how changes in ocean conditions affect seabirds.

We had recess outside again—starting with stretches, a quick run around the school, and then time at the playground. The weather was beautiful, with dramatic shades of colors in the early morning light.

After break, the twins and I talked about Ice, and the different animals that live in the Artic and Antarctic. We made snow-dough, and played with some polar animals. Chipper was happy to play with the hunter, while Jillian organized all the animals.

Rain started this afternoon, and so we’re hoping for a good day tomorrow to hit the beach together one last time.

I’ve been meeting the kids in the library each evening this week, reading some books together and doing some craft. Bianca is knitting, and the boys are enthusiastic pom-pom makers.