Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 2

Day 2

After the overcast skies and gloom that marked the weather of our first day, the sun peeking over the southern California hills seemed like a harbinger for a great day to come.  Despite the sunshine, the Sea Camp atmosphere mimicked the sleepiness that seeped from the campers and spread through the soul of Mission Bay.  Even the wafting sent of chicken and waffles in the air couldn’t pry the clinging sleep from the eyes of the most enthusiastic Sea Camper.  Eventually, grumbling tummies and full bladders alerted everyone that the second day of Sea Camp had arrived. 

With bellies full of the best breakfast foods this side of the Rocky Mountains our hearts and minds were spurred in to action. On the docket today is hag fish slime, shark skin, and fish dissection at fish lab or invertebrates and squid dissection in the morning and the promise of snorkeling /seining at Mission point in the afternoon.

Image result for calamari squid(Otto, please overt your eyes) Quick, picture of an animal....I bet you envisioned something with either hair, scales, or feathers.  Am I right?  Well you may be shocked to hear that 97% of all animals are invertebrates!   I only think of them when one is crawling through the house and I have an uncontrollable murderous urge to smooch it.  The highlight of the experience is the squid dissection. Even post-mortem they can change color with with a flick of your fingernail on their skin which, so close to Halloween, gave rise to the rumor that these were actually zombie squid bent on turning the tables on this whole humans dissecting squid thing.  Next we learned to figure out the gender of the squids by cutting open the mantels and exposing them, oh that didn't sound good.  I challenge you to go back the the days pictures and determine which of the two squids is male and which is female. Females have a sexual organs that look like Vaseline while the males have the look of Elmer's glue on the cusp of drying.  Finally it came time for a Sea Camp right of passage, squid ink tattoos. Traditionally we see much fussing about whose war paint looks most menacing, but this year none of the boys seemed to be interested in a Mike Tyson style tattoo, so we were left with celebrating the girls eye black.  My personal favorite was Molly's heart drawn on her cheek.   Meanwhile in an dissection room next door...(OK Otto, you can open them again)

Among the various fish studied in the fish lab is the adorable hag fish. This endearingly cute creature lives in the deepest depths of the ocean and has a unique way of preserving and protecting their favorite foods in Davey Jones’s locker, it slimes it with mucus.  Yum!  No joke, these things will coat the carcass of a dead whale on the ocean floor with mucus slime so thick that no sent can escape.  Now this slime has many other fascinating uses, for instance Dominic showed us how effective it is as a hair gel.  Nothing says yes I will go to Halloween dance with you like a head full of hag fish slime.  I know I talked about them yesterday, but the slime is just that cool and to be fair to Dom, I think just about everyone except Adam tasted it.  Hey, it's 98% water and 2% protien.  It's practically a heath tonic. The other cool learning experience is the mackerel dissection.  Future scientists had fun ripping the heart out “like an Aztec sacrifice” and opening the stomach to see what the warden gave the fish for their last meal. 

Speaking of food, it’s off to mission point for lunch so we  piled into the vans for the fifteen van drive, I mean rave, to the spot where the ocean meets Misson Bay, Mission Point.  By the way, did you know that all San Diego radio stations are “Ex's and the oh, oh, oh's they haunt me
Like ghosts they want me to make 'em all”?  Every 4 minutes or so.  I can't get the words out of my head! Luckily, while we are young our hears had a brief respite.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches, cookies, and CAMOFLAGE it was time for snorkeling.
Image result for giant black sea hareMission point is the ideal location for introducing snorkeling because it provides relatively calm area that still has the biodiversity of the local Pacific waters.  Many species of fish and invertebrates use these protected waters as a nursery for their young so there is plentiful marine life that can be seen by simply floating along the surface of the water.  We again squeezed into our 7mm thick neoprene skin with the addition of hooded vests to guard against the inevitable chill of the 73 degree salt water that would soon engulf us and fins, masks, and snorkels.  That’s right, you read it right, 73 degrees!  I have never been here with such warm water.  I love the ‘new’ pacific, but it comes at a cost.  The downright hot water has caused the normally plentiful marine life to find cooler water.  In addition to the warm water, there is a high swell advisory so the visibility is next to zero which is less than satisfying for snorkeling.  However, it wasn't a lost cause.  This year we discovered a pair of the largest black sea hares I have ever seen.  The sea hare is the largest species of slug in the world growing to the size of a basketball and weighing up to 35 pounds.  The sea hare has been given its name from its two rhinophores that slightly resemble the ears of a rabbit; to be honest one would need to blind to mistake them for a rabbit. They are so ugly that they are cute.  Cute enough for Kathleen and Elsa to declare that they are are going to harenap the pair and bring them back to Denver.  The staff apprehended these two attempting to smuggle them out of the water for a new family pet. If I were the Wortman's or the Edmond's I would consider meeting us t the airport with a large tank of salt water just in case.   We discovered two of these titans of the slug world canoodling under a rocky ledge.  We could practically hear Barry White playing in the background.  We also discovered a couple of key whole limpet which is always a favorite of snorkeling treasure hunters because licking its underside gives the licker seven years of good luck.  I licked my first limpet seven years ago and I have gotten to go to Sea Camp ever since.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.   In addition to bestowing years of good fortune, this invertebrate has the ability to change its taste according to season according to the Sea Camp staff.  Being so close to halloween,  I clearly tasted candy corn with a hint of pumpkin.  Yum!  We also saw snails, sea urchin, and fish galore including one territorial garibaldi that chased the group all the way back to shore for seining.

Seining is an ancient way of catching fish where two people stretch a net between them while a line of people slowly march towards the net.  Startled fish flee the oncoming hoard of stomping feet and swim straight into the net.  Due to high tide, we were less successful than in years past in netting fish, but we still discovered a male pipe fish.  You may ask, Mr. Framke, how do you know it was Male?  Well, pipe fish are relatives of the sea horse and like sea horses, the male carries the young.  Don’t tell my wife, she’ll think I’m just a big wimp.  Our group also caught a school of top smelt.

Now don't think that we only did sciency academic stuff.  There was plaenty of just plain silly fun activities like sand angles, belly flip contests, and the popular Mission Bay relay.

The only thing left to do is the plankton lab tonight and packing for the boat trip tomorrow.  Good night from San Diego,

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