Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sea Camp Day 2 Report

Sea Camp Day 2 Group A
The slide show is on the bottom of this post.

As the sun dawned on what was to be another sun soaked day in Mission Bay, anxious students, to excited to sleep but too tired to move, opened there eyes and hoped that the counselors would allow them to fain sleep for just a couple more minutes before greeting the second day of camp.  No such luck.  The openly depressed staff (35-24) moped into the complex and aroused all to the smells of frying bacon and eggs with a side of French toast.  Ah the life of a Sea Camper!

Today the A and B groups had flipped schedules.  In the morning A completed the lecture style fish lab while B group had their introduction to snorkeling at Mission Point along with INSANE seining.  We met at The Point for a group lunch of…sandwiches and sprout ball then B inseined and snorkeled while group A had squid dissection (group A did this lab last night and you should have seen Michael V’s squid ink mustache). 

Students in the fish lab learned about three classy classes of fish, breaded, blackened, and tacoed. OK, they were really Agnatha (jawless), Chandricthyes (Sharks), Osteichthyes (boney fish).  With all the discussion of fish and their various adaptations, the students grow quite hungry, so after grumbling tummies louder than the airplanes taking off over head, the staff allowed students to snack on the available fare…Hag fish mucus.  Not surprisingly Conner was the first to volunteer, however Marina beat him to the ooze and had the honor of being the first of many Sea Camp dinners at the Hag fish CafĂ©.  

 Supposedly it tastes like salt water, but I wouldn’t know, the stuff is disgusting!  Everyone’s favorite fish turned out to be the shark (ok, that’s not too shocking) and the shark portion of the lab didn’t disappoint.  Did you know that every year sharks kill 5 to 8 humans and humans kill 250,000,000 sharks?  Instead of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, perhaps we should provide sharks with a human week. 
I can just envision little tiger shark pups in the seven seas hiding under the comforter when Nana gets handed a menu.   
As Sean quipped “I am a big bad human!  Fear Me! 
Much of this over harvesting of sharks is due to the popularity of shark’s fin soup.  Sharks fins will fetch as much as $250 a pound in the markets of Chinatown in San Francisco so fisherman will catch the shark, cut all the fins off and then return the helpless fish to its unenviable fate in the open ocean without the ability to swim.  This fact hits home for me since one of my favorite dishes as a kid was sharks fin soup at the local Chinese restaurant.  The fin didn’t taste too good, it is fairly tasteless cartilage after all, but my father and I thought it was cool to be eating shark.  I have tried without success to apologies to each and every shark that I have met since, but they seem to just want to swim away in disgust.  The coolest part of the shark lab is the shark tank.  The circular tank is the home of four Horned sharks, two leopard sharks, two spotted guitar fish, and the only horse shoe crab known to man that actually prefers to lay about on its back on the sand taking in the SoCal rays.  Ah the life of a Sea Camper!  Porsche, one of the counselors, caught one of the Horn sharks and presented it to every student to touch so that the students could feel the epidermal dentils (sharks skin). 

After shark wrangling, on came the Pacific Mackerel dissection.  Students dissected the hearts of their mackerels along with an inspection of the stomach (they found scales from their prey fish, and gills, yummy! I think this is why stray cats come to live near camp.  

Once everyone completely lost their appetites, it was on to lunch at Mission point.     

We pause for a brief radio break in the Sea Camp vans.  Click here for music.
OMG that song will never ever ever get out of my head!

Sprout ball, a modified dodge ball game that never ends, supplied its usual thrills.  Conner, Trevor, and Mikael dominated the Sea Camp staff. 

After getting hot and sweaty the best way to cool down is to immediately get into a cold water wetsuit, so we all scrambled to the neatly piled stacks of neoprene.  Yesterday we were challenged with simply getting them on to go boogie board, today we upped the ante and had to not only get the suit on correctly (no boys, the zipper goes in the back) AND put on a hooded vest with a mask and snorkel.  Once this was accomplished we divided into two groups, while one group snorkeled, the other seined in the shallows and eel grass.  Seining is an ancient method of catching fish.  Two people hold wooden stakes that are attached to a net.  The net has one side that is held at the top of the water by floats while the other end weighted side of the net scraps the sea floor.  While the net is held taught, the rest of the group links arms and methodically marches through the water towards the net.  Frightened fish try to escape the chorus line by swimming … right into the net. We had quite a hull.  We netted a dozen giant kelp fish, bass and pike fish. 

Other than the largest kelp fish I have never ever ever seen caught in the net, the coolest part was one of the male pike fish (like sea horses, the males carry the young) gave birth to a score of babies.  They were tiny, but fascinating.  So fascinating that belly flops were in order.

The snorkeling group had the opportunity to see, touch, and even taste the local sea life that calls the rocky Mission Point home.  Some of the highlights were an octopus, brittle stars, sea stars, sea hares (although they move more like a tortoise), and flitting Garibaldi’s.  But before we could discover the wonders of the rock reef, we first had to navigate through long thick patches of eel grass that seemed to entangle some of the girls quicker and tighter then devil's snare.  Luckily eel grass's kryptonite is a good loud scream, so we were serenaded throughout the snorkel.  How did the song go

You go talk to your friends talk
To my friends talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

Like ever...

Ahhhh, that's much better.  Interestingly enough, the octopus had taken up residence in an old heineken bottle that he decorated with a colorful assortment of barnacles and sea weeds.  Eric Carle would have been proud.  Another hit was the giant limpet.  The sea camp guides swear that the giant Limpet or whale’s eye does in fact taste like sweet potato, but Mike was just happy to get the seven years of good luck that comes when you lick the mollusk.  Yummy and good for you too!  Too bad the same can’t be said of Brussels sprouts.  All the snorkeling was just a tease for what is to come on the boat trips which start tomorrow. 

We ended the day with a quick football practice on the dirt field, the sea camp store, and a down home chicken fried dinner with all the fixings.  

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