As part of the Middle School Environmental Science curriculum, 8th graders have been studying marine ecosystems, with a focus on their native Long Island. Recently, the students used the information learned in the classroom to assist with real marine research right here on Long Island.
Last week the 8th grade visited Cupsogue Beach Park with members of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI) in order to observe, count, and record information about the local seal population. In groups of four (two to count and two to record), the students used telescopes and other observation tools to track the seals living in the Long Island harbor. Once a seal was identified, the 8th graders filled in data collection sheets with observations about the weather as well as the seals’ appearance and behavior. This data is used by CRESLI to track and care for the animals living in the harbor. During the trip, the class identified between 107 and 121 different seals, noting the variations in behavior and color patterns.
By taking part in this research, the students not only experienced the ecosystem first hand, they also developed a greater understanding of the data gathering processed used by researchers who study the ecosystems with a goal of preserving them. Students also utilized this data to better understand the ecosystem of their native Long Island. The 8th grade, along with the 7th grade, will continue this important research later this spring.