Monday, September 24, 2007

Where the river meets the sea

Answer: The estuary.

Estuaries usually end where the mouth of a river meets the sea. They act as nurseries for many marine organisms. They are also important for flood control... resilient salt marsh soils and grasses absorb flood waters and dissipate storm surges. Interactions between open waters and estuaries that line the coast occur during the exchange of tidal waters and help living organisms to feed and spawn. Cool.

Well, it has been quite a while since I last typed a post. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote. I'll do my best to sum it all up. Teaching has been going very well. I just received three letters from students who took part in my classes last week. We caught a stingray in one of our seine nets and most of them were anxious to know how it was doing. I am pleased to say that our stingray is doing very well in the touch tank in our aquarium.

Some other fun things that have happened in some of my classes; dolphins swam up into the tidal creek my students and I were crabbing in and they started doing this cool thing called strand feeding (working together as a pod "group" to catch fish, one of the dolphins will actually beach itself to eat fish its group has forced onto land), my seining class had to pull nets and themselves out of the water as a school of mullet (fish - not the haircut) leaped out of the water as they tried to evade the sharks that were thrashing themselves after them, and so much more. This experience is full of surprises and a lot of fun.

In other news, Mom and Dad came to visit me last week. We had a super nice visit over six days touring around Charleston and then making our way south to Savannah, Georgia. We took in the South Carolina Aquarium, a fun Ghost Tour in Charleston, dinned at many yummy southern restaurants and had our fill of crab and shrimp, rode on a river boat and trolley (neither were the real thing, but did have a certain atmosphere), bought some art in Savannah and ate delectable sweets from the candy shops. I'm so glad that my parents were able to see this place (they even took in one of my classes at Barrier Island) and experienced the south. I already miss them a lot, but am excited to hear about how the rest of their trip up the eastern seaboard went. Here are two pics from our trip:

And finally, here is a photo of some of my fellow staff members (Jenn B. [far left], Callie, myself and Olivia) out for a night of dancing in Charleston. We did cut a rug on that dance floor. Until next time.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Photos tell the story best

Perhaps that's my excuse for being a bit lazy today, but I hope those of you who enjoy a picture or two will like these ones. Here I am with my fellow Naturalists from all parts of the eastern United States. We're learning how to run our "Let's Sea" class (all about the five ecosystems of a barrier island). It's amazing how warm and salty our estuary is.

I think I'm in love.
Our management team took the staff this past Monday to the South Carolina Aquarium. What an amazing place. My mouth nearly dropped when I rounded a corner to see a 330,000-gallon Great Ocean Tank, filled with sharks, big fish and a loggerhead sea turtle (the tank is 27ft tall). This aquarium has amazing exhibits, from a cool touch tank to a re-creation of a salt marsh. Many more trips will be required. Plus, I think the young loggerheads (second turtle pic) could use my company.

We've started teaching and it's going to be hard for me to put this whole experience into words.
Our training has been pretty great, but nothing will prepare you like jumping in feet first. Having my first class in a pond while an 8ft alligator hung out in the opposite one (was later removed) was a special treat. Yikes! There has been a lot of studying, very long days and lots of laughs. I think the Grade 5's especially enjoyed it when I strode into the "mudpit" with them and plastered stinky muck all over my face. They looked at me with big smiles and asked if they could add to the mess. How could I say no to that?

I'm very excited because, this week, I also get to run my first dance class in the evening. We do the Virginia Reel (Barrier Island style). It's going to be great. I've also been lucky to be able to make it into Charleston over the past few weeks. What an amazing city. Strolling around the streets really does feel like stepping back into history. I'm looking forward to taking in some of the more touristy stuff. Which reminds me, Momma and Poppa Rusnak will be visiting the Lowcountry in roughly a week and a half. I'm really looking forward to taking them around and dropping down to Georgia to visit another historic city, Savannah.
That's all for now, but I hope you're all well and would love to hear from you.