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Scotts Valley High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #5

This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School

7/17/2015

The final day we had breakfast and began our journey back to Santa Barbara.  We were all sad that we had to leave and wished we had another day, but at the same time excited to bring our stories and interesting facts back home to our friends and families.

While we were heading back, we witnessed more dolphins swimming with us. This time there were hundreds. They were everywhere jumping and twirling as if they were showing off for us. We even saw baby dolphins that were adorable.

We got one last meal before we got off the boat and I should mention that the food was phenomenal during the entire trip. We then said our goodbyes and thanks to the leaders and ship crew whom we got to know pretty well. We got off the boat, walked over to the train station, and began our long train ride home. In all my life, I had never seen so many beautiful and exciting places and creatures! I hope to again travel through these breathtaking islands to make even more memories and see even more wonderful things.

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Scotts Valley High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #4

This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School

7/16/2015

By breakfast on Thursday morning, everyone was up and excited for the day!  We boated over to the neighboring island, Santa Rosa, and anchored at a spot called Belcher’s Bay to take a hike through the Torrey Pines. These pines are also found in San Diego because the islands were, originally, attached to part of San Diego!

After the long hike and beautiful views, we boarded the boat. From there, we traveled back to Santa Cruz, but instead went to the nearside of the island. On the way though, our boat went through the largest sea cave in the world, where the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was shot.

The boat then anchored at a cove called Cueva Valldez, where we were again split into three groups and rotated in similar stations as the day before.  We snorkeled but brought fish counting slates this time, using pencils attached to a board, and kept track of all the fish we saw.  For example, we observed fifteen opal eyes and four garibaldis (our state fish!).

Next, we went kayaking again, but this time we kayaked to the island’s shore which was much rockier than the shore we were at on the far side of the island.  On the beach, we found a rotting seal, many crab exoskeletons and the skull of what we thought was some sort of bird.  Then, we got back into our kayaks and did another plankton count, making sure to travel at the same speed for the same distance to get an accurate measure. We later looked at the plankton under the microscope and realized the plankton was less lively and fewer in general. I believed it was because the near side is vulnerable to our coast, making the near side more likely to become polluted.

For the last station of the day, we looked at more invertebrate animals that were brought up from a dive earlier that day but this time we observed the phylum Mollusca. My favorite was the Spanish Shawl Nudibranch because of its vibrant colors. They are interesting animals because they somehow take the sting from sea anemones to make themselves poisonous toward predators.  Similar to the previous night, we ended the day playing cards, we tried to learn magic tricks, and told ghost stories. Then we went to bed for, sadly, our last night on the boat.

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Scotts Valley High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #3

This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School

7/15/2015

The next morning most of us decided we wanted to watch the sunrise over the islands, and we all got up only to find that the fog was so thick we could not see anything. But then all of a sudden dolphins began to swim with the front of the boat as if they were playing a game. It was so amazing and made getting up at five AM worth our while.

Once we got to the first island, Santa Cruz, we had a full day planned. First we had a swim test around the boat, and then took small boats to the island to explore for about an hour. For the remainder of the day, we were split into three groups and rotated stations. The first station was snorkeling. The water was so incredibly clear and the amazing part, for me personally, was that we learned the names of all the fish and what they looked like the day before, so I felt like a real Marine Biologist being able to differentiate between all the fish.

Next, we went kayaking, learning about the different currents. We also caught plankton, which we later looked at under a microscope. One of our main goals of our excursion was to compare the plankton life on the front and backside of Santa Cruz Island to see if humans were impacting the marine life.

The last station was to observe and diagram a couple of animals from the Echino dermata phylum (spine skin) which some of the experienced divers collected that morning. My favorite was the sea cucumber and we were lucky enough to see the cucumber (Parastichopus Parvimensis) eject its insides to protect itself. It was strange, surprising, and exciting all at once.

To finish off the wonderful day, we bonded — playing cards, laughing and having a good time. When I was about to fall asleep, I heard someone yell “Wow that’s so cool!” I instantly jumped out of bed to see what the commotion was about and sure enough, I look over the edge of the boat where there was a light shining down on dozens of flying fish! It was so amazing how they would speed up and glide over the water like birds. Overall, it was a phenomenal day.

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Scotts Valley High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #2

This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School

7/14/2015
The next morning, we started with an early breakfast and then moved on to the Ocean Science Education room for some information on what we were going to do out on the islands and general background details. It felt like we were in the shoes of a college student and got the opportunity to check out what the classrooms are like at UCSB.

The rest of the day we went down to the beach, felt the warm water, and learned even more about fish and organisms from college students themselves. Then we took turns introducing ourselves with “The Name Game” and got to know each other by sharing our hidden talents.

Later that night after dinner, we drove over to downtown Santa Barbara and had a couple hours to explore the wharf and go shopping on State Street. Afterward, we were all back at the boat and went straight to sleep to prepare for the busy days ahead.

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Scotts Valley High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #1

This entry was written by Linnea Bird of Scotts Valley High School

7/13/2015

After the long train ride from Salinas, we finally arrived at Santa Barbara at about six o’clock. We got into vans and drove over to the campus. We then went directly to the cafeteria where we had a delicious meal and had an entertaining, yet messy, time scooping our own ice cream cones for dessert.

Next, we walked over to the UCSB Research Experience and Education Facility or “REEF” for our first look at some of the organisms we were going to see on the islands. When we finished in the REEF, we were in awe over the spectacular sunset reflected over the reservoir. We then made our way to the dorms to get a good night’s rest for the action-packed days ahead of us.

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Santa Cruz High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #5

This entry was written by Jessica Flores of Santa Cruz High School

6/25/2015
It was bittersweet waking up on the fifth day knowing it was our last. Pelican Bay’s waters were calm and peaceful, nothing like the previous night’s travel. After breakfast, as we were crossing back to the mainland, we got lucky and not only saw dolphins but also a whale!

After packing our stuff, we deboarded the Trust and walked to the train.  At the end of the six-hour train ride, the trip came to its end and summer would continue onward leaving us with the memories we made in that magnificent and majestic place.

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Santa Cruz High School 2015 Channel Islands Blog #4

This entry was written by Jessica Flores of Santa Cruz High School

6/24/15

By day four, we were in the rocky waters of Santa Rosa.  After breakfast we went to the beach for an island hike where we saw one of only two torrey pine forests in the United States – absolutely amazing!

By noon we were on our way back to the boat for a hot lunch.  While the Truth relocated us to another part of Santa Rosa, we had free time – most of us slept.  The beach was off-limits to us because it was molting season for the territorial elephant seals who inhabit the island.

Moving onto group activities, my group started at the invertebrates while another group went snorkeling and the third did a plankton tow.  While observing invertebrates, we saw full-grown crabs as well as little baby crabs!  We got to see a sea hare’s purple and poisonous ink which was very cool!  And then word got around that the snorkeling group saw a horned shark while they were out!

Later that night as we headed back to Santa Cruz Island, the sea was harsh as the waves climbed to six feet before crashing down in a spray of mist. The Truth was rocking side to side as the waves clawed at the rapidly darkening sky. Most retired to bed to rest in their warm beds.

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