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Education activities review: August 4 – 10

August 10, 2012

Public events

Last Saturday’s Salt Marsh Plants Discovery Lab – the summer’s final lab – was attended by 201 visitors. Summer lab volunteers and staff then regrouped at Jess’s house after work for our Lab Volunteer Appreciation Party & Potluck – salmon, homegrown veggies, and delicious desserts were enjoyed by all!

This summer’s Discovery Labs were very popular with visitors and locals alike. We tallied 1,818 visitors at 15 labs covering 5 topics ranging from sport fishing for salmon and halibut to our Science Collaborative project and life in our salt marshes. We averaged 121 visitors per lab, with numbers ranging from 43 to 202. This compares with 2,307 visitors at 21 labs last year, with an average of 110 people attending each summer lab in 2011.

We led Estuary Hikes for 32 visitors this week. Our Estuary Hikes have wrapped up for the summer; these 14 scheduled hikes for the public were attended by 271 people between June 19th and August 9th, with an average of 19 people joining us for each hike. Last summer we averaged 13 people per Estuary Hike.

85 visitors joined us this summer for 7 explorations of Bishops Beach, with an average of 12 people on each walk and numbers ranging from 5 to 23. This is just slightly up from last summer’s total of 80 people for these excursions.

This summer’s programming was 2 weeks shorter than last year’s, and we had 2,174 people join us for our Discovery Labs and walks (compared with 2,641 in 2011).

Science collaborative project

Education staff have been heavily involved this week in preparations for tomorrow’s all-day field monitoring event with 6 teams of KBRR staff and volunteers in Sadie Cove; next Saturday we will monitor in the Fox River Flats.

Science outreach

In case you missed this week’s KBBI radio story on lost NOAA Wave Buoy, “Cook Inlet Wave Buoy Having Trouble Staying Put” – which KBRR staff recently helped locate – you can listen online.

You may have noticed a red hue to both salt and fresh waters around Homer and throughout bay this week. We have received many inquiries about this phenomenon and are actively working to nail down exactly what is causing this. A similar, though less extensive, event was documented in Kachemak Bay last year around this same time. We’ve looked at and photographed reddish cells in both fresh and salt water samples and can conclusively say this is not a toxic red tide or even a red tide caused by diatoms or dinoflagellates. The cells seem to be pollen or fungal spores…we’re leaning toward pollen at the moment. A water sample has been sent to our HAB monitoring partners on the East Coast, some of whom are pollen experts; and we’ll let you know if we hear back from them with a definitive ID of the organism causing the red coloration. This occurrence has highlighted the value of our community monitoring volunteers, who are quick to sample the water for us when asked, and shown us that individuals and organizations around Homer rely on us to answer questions about unusual happenings in Kachemak Bay.

Here are some images of the water’s red coloration and the red pollen (?) cells under our microscopes:

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