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Pearls of Knowledge

By admin
November 20, 2015
Students probe dissected oysters while learning oyster anatomy.

Students probe dissected oysters while learning oyster anatomy.

…offered from The River Project’s oyster-themed field trips.

Since the start of the 2015-2016 school year, The River Project has been busy hosting educational hands-on field trips for BOP Fellows and their students, in addition to the many other programs and research that goes on in their Wet Lab on Pier 40.

A TRP professional holds up a Blue Crab for students to see, and explains how you can distinguish a male from a female.  The Blue Crab is a species that is frequently found near oyster restoration stations throughout the Harbor.

A TRP professional holds up a Blue Crab for students to see, and explains how you can distinguish a male from a female. The Blue Crab is a species that is frequently found near oyster restoration stations throughout the Harbor.

On October 22nd, The River Project welcomed BOP Fellow Sze Leong and her students for a morning of hands-on learning about a number of interconnected topics about the New York Harbor and oyster restoration.  As is typical of all field trips at The River Project, the day started off with an open discussion about the Hudson River and New York waterways, pollution and combined sewer overflows, and what we can do to help the problem.

A student holding a Spider, or Decorator, Crab at one of The River Project’s benthic ecosystem touch tanks.

A student holding a Spider, or Decorator, Crab at one of The River Project’s benthic ecosystem touch tanks.

After the opening discussion, which sets the tone for the remainder of the trip, students were able to explore four learning stations, all guided by experts from The River Project.  Students split their time testing Hudson River water quality parameters, learning about oyster life cycle and ecosystems, understanding oyster anatomy through oyster dissection, and seeing and touching fish and other organisms that have been humanely captured in the Hudson River.

Students were encouraged by their teachers to take notes and pictures of their experiences throughout the morning, and were later asked to write reflections. Below are the field trip reflections from two of Sze’s students.

Student Perspectives

Name: Lily Spitzer-Vanech

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2015

It’s so great being apart of an experiment that might help our rivers, and today my class got to learn more about the environment we were trying to help.

On our field to the Wetlab at the River Project, we were able to test the temperature of the Hudson River as well as dissect an oyster. We also learned about the oyster’s life cycle and about other species living in the river.

In each station I learned something new about the life in the water or how the water affects the organisms. One very interesting fact I learned was that sometimes as the oysters get older, makes change into females. The reason this happens is because when an oyster is born, they don’t have much energy so they are usually male. As the ouster gets older, it has more energy and if it has enough energy, it can change into a female. I thought this was a really cool fact!

Another fact that I learned about oysters was that sometimes when oysters filter the sediments, they digest their food and then filter it, however, sometimes they have fake poop. Fake poop is when the oysters spit out the food they don’t want to eat. They store the sediments they don’t want to eat near the edge of their shell. When they open their shell, they close it with such force that the fake poop just flies out making it seem like actual poop.

The third fact is that when the crab’s shell gets too small, the crab sheds its shell, this process is called molting. I thought this was really interesting because I always thought that the crab’s shell will stay the same until the crab dies. This, I thought was very fascinating.

During this trip I had so many wonderful experiences, but the one that was most interesting was seeing what the bottom of a creature looked like. In the last station, my group got to learn about the other animals living in the Hudson River besides oysters. The person leading our group turned over a very big animal and she explained to us that the animal’s mouth was at the bottom so it could swim on the floor of the river and pick up food as it goes. Around the mouth was its legs, which made it even more interesting.

When we left the Wetlab, I was wondering, which species in the Hudson River were almost extinct and why? Were we, humans, the cause of the animals being dangerously extinct? How many species weren’t extinct? Did they have anything to do with it? I also wondered if most of the animals we saw lived in saltwater or freshwater? This experience made me even more curious about the environment these animals live in and I hope to learn more about it. Overall, this experiment taught me a lot and made me eager to help the East River even more.

Name: Jake McKay

Date: 10/22/15

Today was I think one of my favorite classes/day of the year because we did so much fun stuff in that past hour and a half it seemed like it was only 5 minutes. First our whole class sat down and talked about the environment of the Hudson River. It was really cool and something I thought was shocking was the Hudson wasn’t as polluted as I thought.

Then our class went around and looked at really cool animals in the water. Then we got to test the water for temp and salinity and that was super fun, and lastly because we ran out of time we went to the oyster section and we learned so many cool things about oysters.

1. Something I found really cool was that a boy oyster could turn a girl oyster.

2. Also another thing that was really cool was that seahorses live in the Hudson River.

3. lastly was that the hudson river wasn’t that polluted as I thought. The highlight of the trip was going on the animals part because I saw so many cool new species that live in the hudson river like the seahorses and the horseshoe crab. One question that I still have is the east river or hudson river more polluted. All in all It was so fun and a great experience!

A mini-photo album by Jake McKay:

Pearls 4c

Pearls 4 d

Pearls 4 b

Pearls 4 a