Can you tell me how old a fish is just by looking at a slice of bone? That’s one question youth will learn how to answer in the Manatee Marine Explorers Day Camp created by two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agents.
“There is so much more to the ocean than what you can see on the surface,” says Angela Collins, a UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County agent and co-organizer of the camp.
She and fellow Manatee County UF/IFAS Extension agent, Michelle Atkinson, will introduce attendees to the diversity of marine life that may be less familiar than dolphins or sea turtles. “We plan to have a lot of hands on activities for the kids this year. We will be discovering how plastics and other debris pollute our oceans, dip netting, and conducting a virtual underwater fish survey.” Atkinson stated.
Students will become official "Manatee Marine Explorers" as they are introduced to the marine environment through expert demonstrations, underwater videos, games, crafts and hands-on activities. These young scientists will also discover the otolith, a tiny bone in the fish’s head that can tell a scientist how old the fish is—just as a tree gets more tree rings as it ages, the otolith likewise develops rings as a fish grows older.
Both Collins and Atkinson ultimately want to encourage curiosity and show how fun science can be. With the camp being held at Emerson Point this year, campers will be dip netting to see what lives in our sea grasses. Campers will also participate in a coastal cleanup at Emerson Point to reinforce this year’s camp theme, “Look for Solutions for Our Pollution”.
Registration is capped at 25 participants and will close August 3rd. Age range is 8-12 years old. Activities will be held at Emerson Point on August 10th. The camp fee is $20.
For registration and more information, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/manatee-marine-explorers-day-camp-tickets-47225477675
For further questions, please contact Angela Collins, Marine Extension Agent, or Michelle Atkinson, Environmental Horticulture Extension Agent at 941-722-4524.