First Floating Lab of 2018 O’Fishially a Success!

Picture2We at WILDCOAST are thrilled to announce that our 2018 Floating Lab Initiative has officially kicked off! Just several days ago, WILDCOAST teamed up with a group of talented young students from Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, CA to conduct critical marine research within the South La Jolla Marine Protected Area.

Aimed at building multi-generational conservation capacity, our award-winning Floating Lab program equips students with invaluable first-hand knowledge of cutting-edge survey techniques and exposes participants to the challenges and incredible rewards of a career in marine biology.

After a breath-taking greeting from over 25 wild Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, our research teams collected and analyzed local plankton species, surveyed water quality at 8 different depths and monitored human usage of the MPA.

Picture1Combining teamwork with clever research technology like the Van Dorn bottle, our Water Quality team used water measurements such as pH level, salinity and temperature to develop intuitive hypotheses about how to manage and predict long-term trends in ocean and atmospheric health. Our pod of Planktonic Practitioners worked closely with the captain and crew of our research vessel to collect and determine plankton composition by towing cone-shaped nets and analyzing samples with high-resolution digital microscopes. In fact, we made an alarming discovery… mixed in amongst the various copepods and diatoms were tiny filaments of micro-plastics! The data collected during this voyage will directly contribute to on-going human impact studies conducted by high-impact partner organizations like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

In order to solidify their new understanding of marine research and conservation, each group finished off the morning by delivering an interactive presentation including details about what they studied, what they found, and how their results could impact the future management of marine protected areas. As if all of this wasn’t exciting enough, the final moments of our voyage were spent alongside a young California Grey Whale as she dutifully migrated up the coast.

Picture 3 png“For me, the most incredible part of the day was seeing how passionate and curious these students were about ocean conservation,” remarked Andrew Orozco, WILDCOAST’s newest Conservation Intern and Floating Lab Team Leader. “Within each research group, students shared stories of beautiful moments in nature and discussed plans to pursue future degrees at world-renowned universities like UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley! It was a really empowering environment.”

WILDCOAST would like to thank the generous crew at Seaforth Landing and the wonderful students and staff of Mar Vista High School for making this year’s first Floating Lab so special! It’s going to be a great year.


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