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