The intertidal zone is also known as the area above water at low tide and under water at high tide (i.e. the area between tide marks). This area encompasses many different types of habitats, with a diversity of wildlife, such as starfish, sea urchins, and numerous species of coral.
In the late spring and early summer, we take school and camp groups to the beach to learn about and explore the Intertidal Zone.
After providing an introduction, our educators work with small groups to investigate the fascinating habitats and marine life.
We discuss marine ecology, human impacts on Long Island Sound and conservation of Long Island Sound. Children have the opportunity to connect with the habitat in their own backyard, learn how they, as an individual, are part of a community as well as how animals adapt to an extreme environment. They learn about Asian shore crabs, set minnow traps, and search for crabs, snails and worms.
We also help children to understand how marine debris affects animals and the ecosystem. For example, what is the result of a soda can which is thrown into the water? Once debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean it can create a temporary habitat for animal life. This can eventually harm or kill animals as they outgrow the “habitat” and become stuck within.
We collect many samples, mostly with nets, to study with the children.
This group found a Pipefish, which look like straight-bodied seahorses with tiny mouths.
Part of our message is that wildlife belongs in its natural habitat and we stress the importance of releasing all of the life we have investigated back to its habitat.
Last summer we participated Project Limulus through Sacred Heart University by tagging horseshoe crabs on Long Island Sound. Project Limulus has conducted multiple studies focusing on the life history of the American horseshoe crab population living within Long Island Sound.
The beach is not only a place for sun & fun, but also provides an enriching learning experience for all of us!