AP Bio Rockstars took their knowledge outside of the classroom and went on a field trip to Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay. We were able to take part in citizen science with Limpets!
We made sure to arrive at 12:00PM, just in time for low tide that day! Quadrants were carried out to a specific area to collect data about the different types of marine life. A Scientist, Monika, told us that the data we collected will be used by scientists to compare biodiversity over long periods of time! This data can show which species are thriving, growing, possibly endangered or recovering!
Organisms including sea anemone, chiton, sea urchins, sea snails, hermit crabs, mussels, barnacles and many different kinds of algae were seen in the tide pools! One of my favorite organisms was the anemone, which are cnidarian because they have many layers such as the epidermis, mesoglea, and gastrodermis (which is often used for digestion). Cnidarians often have tentacles. In this case, the anemone’s tentacles shoot out nematocysts which are small springing barbs that become activated through touch stimuli; this is a useful mechanism for catching prey! We tested out the nematocysts by gently touching the tentacles of the anemone and noticed that the tentacles stuck to our fingers and the anemone closed up! I think it is so interesting how anemones can have responses to touch stimuli without the use of a brain!
Personally, I thought the best part of the trip was spotting the sea stars!! Two years ago, no sea stars were found because the sea stars were affected widely by sea star wasting disease. This disease is caused by changing water temperatures would cause the legs of the sea stars to melt off, which could potentially kill the sea star. However, it is very exciting to see that the sea star population is potentially growing and becoming more healthy! I hope that the environment continues to replenish itself!
If I was to name all the interesting facts learned, the organisms found, and the amazing sights seen during this trip, it would take much longer than one blog post! This trip was by far one of my favorite field trips that I have gone on in high school! I seriously recommend going to visit Pillar Point! Even if you are not very interested in marine life like myself, all the sights were very breath taking! Also, I was very pleased to know that the data we collected would be used to track changes in marine life over time, and that our simple task was helping a greater cause!