and Sound Exploration
begins from Carolina Beach marina where classes board the "Winner Cruise Queen",
a 65' twin deck vessel. The boat travels Myrtle Grove Sound,
Snow's Cut, the Intracoastal Waterway, and Carolina Beach Inlet.
During the 30-minute ride out to Masonboro Island students will
learn about the ecology of the beautiful estuary we travel through.
The ride to the island also
includes introducing students to one of the most fascinating
inhabitants of the estuary, the Atlantic Blue Crab. Live blue
crabs will be displayed as our instructors describe their life
cycle, diet, and adaptations.
Upon arriving on Masonboro Island
we divide into three groups. Usually the three stations include
marsh, crabbing and beachfront studies. Depending upon tidal
and weather conditions, we sometimes substitute other stations
for these three standard stations. These other stations include
a sea turtle role playing game and a study of beach sand. Sessions
at each educational station are approximately 25 minutes in length.
The marsh station includes a
scavenger hunt where students search for marine life with nets
and rakes! Students are given a list of items to search for which
includes animals, plants, and other natural features. We often
include claming as part of the scavenger hunt. Claming is an
excellent means to illustrate the economic value of our coastal
crabbing station, students try their luck at catching blue
crabs on baited lines. This is usually a thrilling activity
that involves studying the behavior of the crab as it scavenges
upon a chunk of fish at the end of the line. Various subjects
discussed include predator/prey relationships and food chains.
The "beach front" station
involves a search and classification of seashells. Students can
also learn about the fascinating adaptations found in the animals
and plants that live in this harsh desert-like environment.
two hours on Masonboro Island, we will reboard our vessel and
return to the dock. As we travel through the estuary, the fascinating
feeding behaviors of egrets, herons, cormorants, and osprey
are usually observed.
About the island: Masonboro
Island is a 9 mile long, completely undeveloped barrier island.
Part of the North Caroline Estuarine Reserve System, it is a
marine sanctuary preserved for marine research and education.
During our trips to Masonboro, our groups often have the beautiful
beaches and creeks all to themselves.